Tuesday Reads: Hacker Twitter Storm and Post-Prom Nightmares

twitter-storm-alison-12001

 

Good Morning!!

 

In the comments on yesterday’s post, I mentioned that there has been quite a bit of tension building up between Glenn Greenwald and some of the more extreme members of the (for lack of a better name) cypherpunks crowd–Wikileaks, Cryptome.com, and the hacker community (including Jacob Applebaum, who is closely involved both with Wikileaks and Laura Poitras, Greenwald’s partner in crime. I guess I should have stayed up later last night, because this morning I woke up to the aftermath of a major storm in the Twitterverse, where most of these types of people choose to communicate with each other.

Glenn Greenwald

Glenn Greenwald

The fight stemmed from an article posted at The Intercept yesterday, in which the authors chose to redact the name of one of the five countries targeted by NSA data collection. However, it really goes back much further than that.

There has been a long running disagreement between Greenwald and the other groups I mentioned on how much of Edward Snowden’s trove of stolen NSA data to publish. The hacker/Wikileaks crowd thinks Greenwald should simply release everything and let the chips fall where they may, and Greenwald claims he is carefully vetting the material with Snowden’s help in order not to reveal anything that would harm anyone.

Greenwald has actually revealed only a small portion of the material so far, presumably holding back information that he wanted to include in his book. But now the book has been released, and it apparently contains much information that has already been published. For those who have been obsessively following the NSA leaks story, there doesn’t seem to be a need to buy the book. Why is Greenwald being so stingy?

Here’s some background from Michael Kelley at Business Insider: WikiLeaks Threatens To Reveal Information That Glenn Greenwald Says Could Lead To ‘Deaths’.

Jacob Applebaum

Jacob Applebaum

America’s National Security Agency (NSA) can “vacuum up and store the actual content of every conversation” in the Bahamas and an unnamed country, the new publication The Intercept reported Monday, based on documents leaked by Edward Snowden.

Intercept Editor Glenn Greenwald — who wrote about documents leaked by Snowden when he was a columnist for The Guardian — said the publication didn’t reveal the country because it was “very convinced” that doing so would lead to “deaths.”

After a heated discussion between WikiLeaks, Greenwald, Intercept Editor-In-Chief John Cook, and American WikiLeaks hacker-turned-Der Spiegal contributor Jacob Appelbaum, WikiLeaks tweeted that it will reveal the name of the second country being spied on by the NSA.

As Kelley points out, the implications is that Wikileaks knows the name of the country either by unmasking the redaction with software or because Wikileaks has access to the Snowden files.

The most plausible way for WikiLeaks to have access to a Snowden cache is if Appelbaum, who led the reporting on several Der Spiegel articles based on NSA documents (which may or may not be from Snowden), shared information with his friend and WikiLeaks Editor-In-Chief Julian Assange. Applebaum tweeted that The Intercept’s redaction was “a mistake.”

Appelbaum, a close friend of Laura Poitras, the other journalist whom Snowden gave a large set of documents, also gave a presentation detailing a classified document listing technology available to the NSA’s hacking unit, known as TAO. It is not known how he acquired those documents.

Laura Poitras

Laura Poitras

So which is it? The careless ways in which the Snowden documents have been passed around between The Guardian and The New York Times and other news organizations; with Greenwald’s husband David Miranda carrying them through London to Berlin and back; as well as the fact that Snowden is in Russia, suggest that the entire cache will eventually be released, and presumably all hell will break loose. It’s only a matter of time. 

Charles Johnson posted the entire Wikileaks-Greenwald argument at Little Green Footballs: Slap Fight of the Day: Wikileaks vs Pernicious G

Today on Twitter this happened: Julian Assange, who most people believe is the one behind the @Wikileaks account, threw a huge tantrum because Glenn Greenwald redacted the name of a country from his latest disingenuous article. Greenwald says he was convinced publishing the country’s name would lead to deaths. Assange doesn’t give a shit about that, of course.

There are some inadvertently hilarious moments here; Wikileaks’s Jacob Appelbaum says redacting the country “makes Wikileaks look extreme.” I almost fell out on that one. And then there’s the tweet in which Assange basically calls everyone in Greenwald’s crew “a bunch of racists.” And it all ends with Assange issuing a super-villain threat to release the country’s name “in 72 hours.”

Scroll through the collection below to see what it looks like when extreme libertarians have a purity war.

Head over to Green Footballs if you want the details. Read more exchanges between Wikileaks, Jacob Applebaum, and John Cook, editor of The Intercept at Chirpstory. Read more at Buzzfeed, where Miriam Berger and Miriam Elder provide a timeline of the tweets along with their interpretation: Julian Assange Is Angry At Glenn Greenwald And He’s Not Going To Take It Anymore.

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Finally, Bob Cesca’s take on the whole affair: The Wikileaks vs Greenwald Twitter Fight: Julian Assange Threatens To Reveal Deadly NSA Info.

It all began Monday morning when The Intercept posted a new Snowden revelation with cutesy headline: “Data Pirates of the Caribbean: The NSA Is Recording Every Cell Phone Call in the Bahamas.” Get it? Pirates! The article exhaustively describes an operation called MYSTIC and another called SOMALGET in which NSA gathers audio and metadata of cellphone calls in the Bahamas in order to spy on human traffickers and drug cartels. The Bahamas is notorious for both.

Naturally, the article featured all of the deceptive Greenwaldian bait-and-switch we’ve come to expect from his Snowden articles. For example, in paragraph seven, Greenwald and his co-authors Ryan Devereaux and Laura Poitras noted that Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), Bill Gates and Oprah Winfrey routinely vacation in the Bahamas:

By targeting the Bahamas’ entire mobile network, the NSA is intentionally collecting and retaining intelligence on millions of people who have not been accused of any crime or terrorist activity. Nearly five million Americans visit the country each year, and many prominent U.S. citizens keep homes there, including Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Bill Gates, and Oprah Winfrey.

NSA is spying on Oprah! Stop the presses! But no, if you read all the way down to the 54th paragraph (!!) Greenwald tosses in a token mention of NSA’s rules about preventing data collection against U.S. Persons, whether or not they happen to be inside the U.S. There are very strict “minimization” procedures to eliminate the data that might’ve been inadvertently collected. Why? Because it’s illegal to spy on Americans without an individual warrant. And, by the way, Greenwald & Company noted that the SOMALGET program is, yes, legal.

It sure seems like there are enough hints in the story for anyone to guess the redacted country. Pirates? SOMALGET? Plus the fact the Assange accused Greenwald of “racism.” Read much more interpretation and more tweets at The Daily Banter.

I’ll be keeping a close eye on this story from now on and I’ll pass on any new information.

In other news . . .

On Sunday JJ wrote about an alleged gang rape that reportedly took place after the Calhoun High School senior prom in North Georgia on May 10. The reason I’m writing about it is that Sky Dancing has been getting a huge number of clicks from people looking for more information on this story. It seems people want to know what is happening, but the local papers have not published anything on the crime or the investigation since Sunday. Doesn’t that seem odd and troubling? Is a cover-up in the works. As JJ pointed out it brings back memories of Steubenville, Ohio. After the gang rape there, local officials tried to sweep it under the rug, but a blogger and an “Anonymous” group kept the story alive. Maybe someone with inside information from Calhoun needs to get something like that started? As in Steubenville, there are hints that coddled football players may be involved.

 

Jacqueline Gomez

Jacqueline Gomez

Meanwhile, in another prom-related tragedy, a girl was found dead after a prom at MacArthur High School in Houston. According to her mother, the mother of Jacqueline Gomez’ boyfriend was supposed to bring her home that night, but instead the boy’s mother allowed the couple to stay in a hotel room against the Gomez’ mother’s wishes. To me the whole thing sounds really suspicious. From KHOU.com, Mother: Daughter was not supposed to stay at hotel after MacArthur HS prom.

There are new startling details from the mother of a teenagerfound dead on prom night. Her mother feels like she was mislead by her daughter’s prom date and his mother….

Gomez was off to her senior prom at the Hyatt North Houston Hotel. Her mother was too distraught to show her face on camera, but said she expected to see her daughter back at home later that night….

Barron said Gomez’s date’s mother picked the couple up from her home. She also picked them up from the hotel later that night. That’s when she last spoke to her daughter on the phone.

“I just spoke to them after prom, a couple words, told me she was going to get something to eat,” said Barron.

That’s when the boy’s mother got on the phone and asked if Gomez could spend the night at their house.

“I said no, bring her back home,” said Barron. “I gave them a couple hours, and I never heard back.”

The next call she got was from a homicide detective with the Houston Police Department. She said detectives told her the room was booked by the boyfriend’s mother.

What happened? Who gave Jacqueline the drugs and did the boy’s mother know about it? More information from The Houston Chronicle: Texts Hint Girl May Have Overdosed After Prom.

A series of text messages offered new details into the death of Jacqueline Gomez, the 17-year-old Aldine ISD senior found dead Saturday in a Houston motel room the morning after her prom. The texts, sent from an account identified as Gomez’s date, also indicate investigators believe the girl probably overdosed….

Yet nobody can be certain how the MacArthur High School student died until autopsy results are complete – which could take several weeks, the Harris County medical examiner said. And that has the date and Gomez’s family and friends anxiously waiting for the mystery to be solved.

Meanwhile, her friends and family refute any suggestion that Gomez was ever a “party girl,” saying she spent most of her time working at a Kroger grocery and preparing to graduate in June.

Was Jacqueline given a date-rape drug? We may never find out, because those drugs wash out of the system very quickly. Check this out:

“He was posting pictures of himself crying on Instagram. So I a sent him a text that day to ask what had happened to my girl,” said Justice Gonzalez, a close friend of Gomez who saw the couple leave the prom together Friday night to go to that room. Authorities report Gomez was found dead in her bed about 9:20 the next morning.

“They said she overdosed,” part of the text reads, likely referring to law enforcement officials.

He went on.

“I woke up. I tried waking her but she wouldn’t,” the date texted back, adding four frowning faces. “I was screaming and crying telling her to wake up. But she didn’t. She didn’t,” He ended his text with two frowning faces with tears.

He stated she had appeared “perfectly fine and happy” when they left the “Miami Night” prom. She also seemed “happy” when they both went to sleep, he said.

He had told authorities that they had some alcohol, but said in a text to the friend that Gomez had also taken the painkiller hydrocodone.

Why the f&ck didn’t didn’t he take her home, and WTF was his mother thinking?! Furthermore, why can’t something be done to prevent these kinds of after-prom horrors?

Now I’m really mad, and I’m running out of space and time. I’ll post links to other news in the comment thread, and I hope you’ll do the same.

 


Monday Reads: the Hillary Factor

Good Morning!Hillary Clinton Holds Online Global Town Hall With Youths From Around The World

The Republicans are seriously flipping out at the thought of President Hillary Clinton. I didn’t watch the Sunday talking head shows but I certainly followed the follow-up fallout.  Reince Prebius is literally pissing his Little Lord Fauntleroy suits in anticipation of the 2016 race. 

By repeating the claim over and over again that she won’t run, RNC chairman Reince Priebus admitted that the Republican goal is to smear Hillary Clinton into not running for president.

Priebus claimed that Clinton’s age and health are fair game. The RNC chairman said, “What was her record as Secretary of State? Benghazi, Boko Haram, you know, Syria, Russia, those are going to be the issues that I believe will cause her to rethink whether or not she wants to run for president.”

Later he said, “What I think is going to make her rethink whether she should actually run for president. By the way, I don’t think she will if she has another month like she just had, but the issues that I talked about are the issues that are going to make her unacceptable to the American people.”

Priebus denied the that issue is to convince her not to run, then he claimed that Clinton is trying to sweep Benghazi under the rug, and he repeated, “My view though is David, is that given the month she just had, actually I doubt very much that she will run for president in 2016.”

hillary-clinton-biopics-cancelled-ftrThe man who should be in front of a firing squad for lying us into war, violating our torture agreements, and ignoring all the intelligence leading up to 9/11 even crawled out from the Wyoming caves long enough to snarl Benghazi!  Like this guy doesn’t need a full out investigation leading to his arrest and imprisonment.  When do we get to hold Bush/Cheney inc responsible for all their screw ups?

Dick Cheney, the former vice president who was in office during the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 and later pushed the country into war with Iraq based on faulty intelligence, said on Sunday that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would be “held accountable” for four Americans that died during a terrorist attack in Benghazi.

During a Sunday interview on Fox News, host Chris Wallace asked Cheney if Clinton “did anything wrong,” and if she should be “held responsible for the events surrounding that attack.”

“She was secretary of state at the time that it happened,” Cheney opined. “She was one of the first in Washington to know about it. I think she clearly bears responsibility for whatever the State Department did or didn’t do with respect to that crisis.”

“I do think it’s a major issue,” he added. “I don’t think we’ve heard the last of it yet, and I expect that she will be held accountable during the course of the campaign.”

Cheney’s wife, Lynne, who was also on the program also doubled down on her recent suggestion that Hillary Clinton had conspired with Vanity Fair to publish an article by Monica Lewinsky to get the issue out of the way before a 2016 presidential run.

“I was really paying the Clintons a large compliment,” she insisted. “I was saying how clever they are politically. And it seemed to me, if you had something that might come up during the campaign that would be damaging, it was very smart to get it out of the way early.”

“So, that’s my case, Chris, and I’m staying with it.”

The totally irrelevant Karl Rove continued his spiel on Fox.  He’s been so consistently wrong on things recently that you’d think even the Fox vacuum tube would burst.

On “Fox News Sunday,” Rove said the Clintons are hypocritical for crying foul.

“I love President Clinton’s comments the other day,” Rove said. “Let’s remember, this is a guy who ran for office savaging Bob Dole.”

“I love being lectured by Bill Clinton,” Rove said sarcastically.

Bill Clinton didn’t necessarily lecture Rove, but he did defend his wife last week, saying she is “strong.” But the former president might have made the situation worse for his wife by saying she had a “terrible” concussion that took six months to get over. That is the first time anyone from her team has said it was a six-month recovery.

“Karl Rove is struggling to be relevant,” Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri shot back on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” calling the former Bush adviser’s super PAC, which spent more than $175 million trying to elect Republican Mitt Romney, an “abject failure.”

What is it with these men that they are so afraid of one woman?  It just amazes me to see the kind of filth the kick up about her.

Bernie Sanders is questioning Hillary from the left.

 Sanders says he doesn’t know whether Clinton will run or not but, like everyone, can see the direction of things this spring. He already has plenty of questions about whether the former senator and secretary of state is what he believes the times demand.

“If she does run, will she be as strong as the times require in taking on the billionaire class that has so much power? I’m not sure that she will be,” Sanders said during an interview in his Senate office. “Will she be as strong as needs be to address the crisis of climate change? I am not sure that she will be. Will she be as strong as needs be to take on the power of Wall Street? I’m not sure she will be.”

It has been widely assumed that if Clinton runs, someone who speaks for the party’s restive progressive wing could mount some kind of challenge — symbolic, gadfly or otherwise — to force a more robust discussion about economic issues and the power of Wall Street and corporate interests. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is a popular choice among many on the left to lead that effort, but she has so far demurred. Sanders is not so reticent.

He appears slightly uneasy presenting himself purely as the anti-Hillary. “I like Hillary and have known her for many years,” he said somewhat defensively after he was reminded that he recently told Jay Newton-Small of Time magazine that he would be a better president.

“What I do know about Hillary Clinton is that she has been a very strong advocate of women’s rights,” he continued. “I respect that. She and I have worked together on some issues regarding children. She’s been a strong advocate of children. I have a lot of respect for Hillary Clinton.”

But it’s clear his respect has limits when it comes to the core issues that long have animated his politics. “These are extraordinary times, which require a boldness and an aggressiveness that I’m not sure her past history suggests is there,” Sanders said. “I am not sure that she has been — ” He paused and caught himself. “Well, that’s all. I’m going to leave it at that.”

I do worry about the “inevitability” factor raising its head again. That caused a lot of democratic pols to search out other candidates.  Will we see some of the same? 

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick said he is concerned about the “inevitability” factor with a potential Clinton nomination.

“I do worry about the inevitability thing,” Patrick said on CNN’s “State of the Union,” adding that it’s “off-putting to the … average voter.”

“I think that was an element of her campaign the last time,” he said, without having to specify how that turned out (Barack Obama won). “I just hope that the people around her pay attention to that this time around.”

All of this effort is pure speculation at the moment anyway since Clinton still is coy about her future.  I also hope we can continue to focus on the 2014 elections and the need to ensure we don’t see the Republicans win the Senate Majority.  There is still a good chance that the ever scarier Repubican loonies could do it.   Right now many folks are saying there are 48 seats leaning towards each party and about 4 are a toss up.  This is the outlook from Larry Sabato.

The calculated takeaway is this: As of now, Democrats are clear underdogs in the two states where they want to play offense. They also are probably no better than 50-50 in any of the seven red states where they are defending seats, and drowning in a couple. A big enough wave could cut into the blue states, too, although probably not as deeply as Republicans fantasize. Put it all together, and the current forecast calls for a wave that’s more than a ripple but less than a tsunami — a four to eight-seat addition for the Republicans, with the higher end of the range being a shade likelier than the lower.

So, I’m really worried about all of this.  I don’t want to experience the absolute misogyny again and I certainly don’t want  the right wing religious whackos in office.  I think we really need to work on GOTV for the fall and try to get off the 2016 races already!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Sunday Reads: Link Dumps and a Feel Good Video, News Story

f98fe9cf69662527aadea94df8e35a0eMorning

all…

I have an enormous migraine, so this is going to be a massive link dump.

Like we are talking, shit load of links = go read it yourself kind of dump style, here…

So please do read these articles, especially the first ones I put up because I have a feeling it is going to be another Steubenville Rape Culture shitstorm, only this time it is in my redneck part of the woods. North Georgia.

By the way, Calhoun High is one of the top football teams in the country…just so you know, as you read these articles.

b166ada939bed00d0b03d56d51201e16Calhoun ponders one dark night: Police stress care needed in investigation into post-prom party

This time of year, with any high school during the month of May, the clock ticks off the flurry of events that pile up before summer vacation: The school musical. The spring scrimmage. The glittering, Great Gatsby-themed prom.

The clock ticks on.

But for many at Calhoun High, that momentum pushing students toward that rite of passage has paused.

And it lingers on the night of May 10 — a few hours after prom’s twinkling lights were dimmed.

Whatever happened that night in the cabin in the gated-off Coosawattee River Resort near Ellijay, Ga., has cast a shadow that stretches over the last days of Calhoun High’s school year.

From an official standpoint, the events of that night remain unclear. All that detectives have said is that they are investigating a rape case.

But in the small town of Calhoun, stories of what occurred at the alcohol-fueled party reverberate, filled with appalling details that have not been confirmed or denied by investigators.

The versions of the story compound on social media, branching into arguments, calls for arrests and cries for prayer. Some take sides. Others plead for the gossip to stop.

One thing is clear: A girl ended up in the hospital after that night, in need of serious medical treatment.

Since then, detectives have questioned at least 25 students about what happened at the cabin, including a group of young men suspected of being involved in an assault.

8ee2928784d27e07d027904298d59c03Some in the community have complained about the pace of the investigation — claiming that it’s being slow-walked because of the high-profile status of some of the students allegedly involved and their parents.

But officials in Gilmer County, Ga., which is one county over and home to the cabin in question, brush off such criticism.

Uh…I may state that I am bias, but I think the situation is one that deserves criticism…

Detectives want to cover their bases before pressing any charges, explained Capt. Frank Copeland, spokesman for the Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office.

And in a case like this, there are many bases.

Imagine, Copeland said, trying to nail down a time line of what happened at a fratlike party, cobbled together from the hazy recollections of teenagers who were intoxicated.

Add to that the fact that all of these witnesses or potential suspects go to school together and see each other nearly every day. They all have the alliances and enemies and social pressures of high school.

“There are so many people we have to talk to, witnesses and accused. It takes a long time to get it done,” Copeland said. “You want to make sure you do a good investigation, you want to make sure that you’re not letting anything fall through the cracks. If we did a really fast investigation, we might miss something, or do something wrong.”

On top of that, the tremendous volume of social media posts about the allegations has added another layer of questions to wade through.

“Everybody in the three-state area is interested in hearing about it,” Copeland said. “All the local people there are joining in, siding up, throwing stuff out.”

Still, Copeland says the department expects to have a resolution in the investigation next week.

If charges are pressed, they will be filed in Criminal Court instead of Juvenile Court, officials say. All of those potentially involved were 18 or over, he said. Nearly all of those who attended the party were from Calhoun, except for one person from Dalton, Ga.

1781910c4e1a219557f8898484c9fa03The other thing that is so damn disturbing is the attitudes of the investigators and the Superintendent of Calhoun High School:

Back at Calhoun High, teachers and administrators are trying to urge students toward the finish line, continuing with regularly scheduled events and encouraging students not to dwell on or spread rumors, Calhoun City Schools Superintendent Michelle Taylor said.

Students will graduate Friday night.

Taylor has stressed that while the school is cooperating with the investigation, the party had nothing to do with the school.

While some parents have called for students who are accused of being involved in the alleged attack to be suspended or kept from graduating, Taylor said it’s too soon to say whether such measures are necessary — especially since no one has been charged.

While Copeland wouldn’t comment on the demeanor of the many students that the department has interviewed, he mentioned that plenty of them reminded him of himself at that age: Excited about graduating, enjoying friends, ready for the future.

“We all just wanted to have a good time and celebrate the fact that we’ve graduated,” he recalled. “But I will just say: What people are thinking is OK or acceptable seems to have changed in the 30 years since I was in school.”

WTF is that last quote all about? Rape was rape back then too? Right? That comment already shows to me that the man has had his decisions about the case “persuaded” shall we say, into what is considered “acceptable” by whose standards? The money and clout behind the football players/suspects’ families? (You get what I am saying right?)

Check this other link out that has more detailed information, the victim was in need of medical attention…and there is suggestion of ruffies being involved: UPDATE: Rape investigation follows Calhoun High prom party – WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

The article seems to have been updated, and questions about what part the ruffies played in this rape have been deleted. However you can still see discussion of the drugs and such in the comments. I highly suggest you read those.

For one more link about this story: Calhoun resident, students protest as rape investigation continues

Protesters hold signs in support of an alleged rape victimA group of protesters stood along a sidewalk near Calhoun High School on Saturday to raise awareness of an ongoing rape investigation in Gilmer County that allegedly involves some CHS students.

Authorities said late last week that a prom after-party in Gilmer County May 10 led to the alleged rape of a Calhoun woman. As many as 25 males ages 18-20, some from Calhoun and one from Whitfield County, are considered suspects in the investigation.

“We don’t want this to be swept under the rug,” said Tiffany Barringer, a parent of a CHS student, and one of about seven protesters Saturday. “We want justice to be done. We’re here in support of the victim to let her know she is not alone. There are people in the community behind her. We’re here to show our support.”

Barringer said she is concerned about the safety of her own daughter and she believes the suspects should not be allowed in the school.

Law enforcement officials have not released the names of any suspects.

a9e1797865660a49def4efdb41fc1d58As Barringer spoke, cars drove past on Ga. 53 honking their horns in response to signs that said, “No means no” and “honk if you agree.” But not everyone was eager to see the protest, according to Barringer.

“There’s a lot of people being negative towards us, saying that what we’re doing is wrong,” she said. “But we’ve had enough. We need to protect everybody and stand up and say we need morals, like respect. That’s totally lost in our society.”

Read the comments on this post as well.  I will keep y’all up to date on this story, I really hope it gets some traction in the media and blogs…seriously…as many 25 male suspects? Fuck if this does not become yet another horrible example of rape culture to put down in that ever growing list of other school rape scandals and cover-ups.

I have a few more links about my home state of Georgia:

In Georgia, Lawmakers Taking Pride in Policies That Hurt the Poor | Next New Deal

Georgia has taken the lead in the mad dash to thwart the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and prevent poor people from accessing health care. Last week, Governor Nathan Deal signed into law two bills that ensure the state won’t be expanding Medicaid any time soon, and that make it decidedly more difficult for people to gain coverage under the ACA. These laws – a notch in the belt of conservatives preparing for the fall election – compound the social and economic injustices already experienced by many low-income Georgians.

House Bill 990 moves the authority to expand Medicaid out of the Governor’s office and over to lawmakers. In a state where conservative politics run deep, HB 990 is Governor Deal’s clever way of way of ensuring Medicaid expansion will never get passed, and abdicating all responsibility for the health and economic consequences that will surely result. The second bill, HB 943, restricts state and local agencies and their employees from advocating for Medicaid expansion, bans the creation of a state health insurance exchange, and prohibits the University of Georgia from continuing its navigator program once its original federal grant expires in August. The University’s navigators have been working throughout the state – especially in underserved rural areas – to help demystify the ACA, assist individuals in gaining coverage on the national exchange, and help those who already qualify for Medicaid to enroll.

“Someone else will now have to re-invent the wheel and figure out how to get resources to people in rural areas,” said Beth Stephens of Georgia Watch, a non-partisan consumer advocacy organization.

Like many other states that refuse to participate in Medicaid expansion, Georgia isn’t faring so well by most socio-economic indicators. The poverty rate, which now hovers around 20 percent, is 50 percent higher than it was in 2000. Nearly two million Georgians do not have health coverage, ranking the state fifth nationally in numbers of uninsured. Close to half of those individuals between the ages 18 and 64 have incomes below 138 percent of the federal poverty level, many of whom would be covered under Medicaid expansion. Georgia has one of the nation’s highest unemployment rates (seven percent) and today the average family makes $6,000 less than it did 10 years ago, when inflation is factored in. Individuals living outside of major cities have few health care options. In recent years eight rural hospitals have closed, leaving residents with scarce health resources and hospital workers without jobs.

6e0dbf1b057e77fcc91b301f68e34d0aTo make matters worse, lawmakers in Georgia have been systematically dismantling the state’s social safety net. Of the 300,000 Georgian families living below the poverty line, only 19,000 receive TANF and more than three quarters of those cases involve children only. That means that fewer than seven percent of low-income Georgians are able to get the welfare assistance they badly need. On the same day that Governor Deal signed the aforementioned bills, he also signed HB 772, requiring certain individuals to pass – and foot the bill for – a drug test before receiving welfare and food stamps. That bill is thought to be the nation’s most stringent when it comes to public assistance.

And if that isn’t shitty enough…

The environment is especially hostile for Georgia’s women, 21 percent of whom live in poverty (33 and 36 percent of Black and Hispanic Georgian women, respectively). More women in Georgia die of pregnancy-related causes than women in all but two other states. The U.S. maternal mortality rate (MMR) is 18.5; that is the number of women who die for every 100,000 births. Georgia’s MMR has more than doubled since 2004 and is now 35.5 (a shocking 63.8 for black women and 24.6 for white women). Expanding Medicaid would extend health coverage to more than 500,000 uninsured Georgians, 342,000 of them women. That coverage would surely save women’s lives.

Case in point, via Atlanta local Channel 2 News: Woman with massive tumor says hospitals turned her away over lack of insurance

A Newton County woman told Channel 2 Action News that four hospitals turned her away before one agreed to remove a painful, massive non-cancerous tumor.

Doris Lewis, 59, said she had been trying to get insurance since her husband died a few years ago.

There was no sense of urgency, but then a huge tumor started growing inside her and she realized not having insurance presented a huge problem.

“It’s getting bigger every day,” Lewis said. “I can feel it on my body. My heart hurts a little bit.”

The tumor has been inside Lewis for two months and has reached the size of a beach ball.

d4d60dc0228d64640548d36ba833dce0The news even got Raw Story’s attention: Woman with beach ball-sized tumor turned away from four hospitals for lack of insurance

But then, what else would you expect with a state who is doing this shit: Breaking: Pasadena Health Dir. Who Says Support Of Gays Is ‘From The Pits Of Hell’ Gets New Job | The New Civil Rights Movement

The Pasadena Health Director who had amassed a great résumé, a great $250,000 annual compensation package, and a great deal of controversy over his large collection of YouTube videos attacking LGBT people, has a new job. Dr. Eric Walsh, who was place on paid administrative leave just two weeks ago, reportedly is in the process of being hired by the Georgia Public Health Department to oversee the health needs of six counties.

Walsh, who is a pastor for a Pasadena Seventh-day Adventist congregation, came under fire when his comments about gay people, Catholics, Muslims, evolution, the Walt Disney Company, Harry Potter, Oprah Winfrey, Muhammad, Jay Z, single mothers, condoms, and the Pope were discovered.

In one sermon, Dr. Walsh reportedly has told his congregation, “In our public school system they began to teach moral relativism…They began to teach that there really is no absolute right or wrong. It’s more a matter of what you think or what you accept. And (according to that doctrine) if two adults agree to do something, it’s not wrong because they are both consenting adults. That is doctrine from the pits of hell. What makes something right is not based on man, it is based on God.” [Bolding added]

He had also, according to WeHoVille.com, “attacked the American Psychiatric Association’s decision in 1973 to declassify homosexuality as a mental illness, saying those who supported it were ‘raised up by the (devil).’”

02f4836e2ce5e862673874d361845cdeGo and read more about this at the link. I looked up information and news on Walsh here in Georgia and it seems that now Georgia has smartened up:  Former Pasadena official Eric Walsh does not get job in Georgia

(Uh, that is from LA not Georgia btw, so go figure. Oh, and Walsh was slated to work in the North Georgia district. Ha…what a fucking joke.)

I wanted to write about another shitty thing here in Banjoville, and our local elections. But I am in such pain, I will just have to do that later.

The rest of this post is in the massive dump I described up top:

Yet another ridiculous example of justice, North Georgia style: Ex-judge indicted on sex, corruption charges | www.ajc.com

And in North Carolina: Parents, 6 Sons, Accused Of Sexually Abusing Girl For Nearly A Decade

"The Fencer" by James Montgomery Flagg 1877-1960 nicknamed "Puss in Boots"

“The Fencer” by James Montgomery Flagg 1877-1960 nicknamed “Puss in Boots”

Meanwhile in South Carolina: Student’s art rejected from school show for being ‘inappropriate’ | Local News – WYFF Home

This next article is something else, it discusses the aspect of birth and women in the Nigerian culture: Nigeria schoolgirls kidnap: If they are freed by Boko Haram, their struggle will not be over – Comment – Voices – The Independent

In more Spitting, Stalking, Rape Threats: How Gun Extremists Target Women | Mother Jones

And then the smack down, read it, it is priceless: The Greatest Advice Column Response Ever (Photo)

Many of you have seen this I am sure: Town Official Defends Police Commissioner Who Called Obama The N-Word | ThinkProgress

In a related story: Mel Brooks: I Would Never Get Away with Using ‘N-Word’ on Screen Today | Mediaite

Fuck these rightwing fuckwads: The Idaho GOP Gubernatorial Debate Was Total Chaos | Mother Jones

Speaking of the rightwing fuckwads, here is X’s list for the failed revolution: 10 Reasons Why “Operation American Spring” Was A Failure | List of X

Oh, and check this out: Peggy McIntosh Sets Record Straight on White Privilege – COLORLINES

Something I found on facebook: WTF Is Wrong With Americans? This Guy Nails It.

Another thing I found on facebook: Timeline Photos – Bread and Roses 1912-2012 | Facebook

Please remember the Turkish coal miners. The high cost of mining displayed for all to see.

 

Another cliff:  Standoff on US roadway repairs becoming ‘highway cliff’ | MCT National News | McClatchy DC

I said from the very beginning, that Religious Conscientiousness was a bad thing:  Why We Need to Ban ‘Conscientious Objection’ in Reproductive Health Care

b24c608739ce7854352eaf2852f77753In California: Arson suspect charged in San Diego wildfires, most blazes dying down | Al Jazeera America

You may be in a flood zone: This Is Your Country With 10 Feet Of Sea Level Rise

A gallery here: First look at 9/11 Memorial Museum – First look inside the 9/11 Memorial Museum – NY Daily News

Science related links:

Rocketing solar winds may spark lightning as they buzz Earth | MCT National News | McClatchy DC

A Surprising Reason We Might Procrastinate | Alternet

Some scary ass pictures: Your Favorite Children’s Characters Would Kill You In A Heartbeat

Updates on other things: Football’s Risks Sink In, Even in Heart of Texas – NYTimes.com

f53d7155974dde3497e7459d9fff38dcA story that you may find a little repetitive, since Dak did a long post on the Koch brothers some time back…however, she says this one is more definitive: Quixotic ’80 Campaign Gave Birth to Kochs’ Powerful Network – NYTimes.com

More Koch: Jon Stewart Trashes ‘Hypocrite’ Harry Reid over Attacks Against Koch Brothers | Mediaite

Another literary fraud: Misha Defonseca Pays $22 Million: History of the Fake Holocaust Memoir | New Republic

I loved Sister Wendy: Saturday Night Social: The Night Belongs to Sister Wendy

Some fun with: Watch Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen Giggle and Talk About Hashtags

Unfortunate news about: No Cannes Do – The Status of Women Directors at Cannes Over the Last Decade|Women and Hollywood

An article about one hunk of a man: Sting Photographed by Annie Leibovitz | Vanity Fair

Now some fashion links, first this one to a dress that reminds me of something from pre-wwII Hollywood: Fan Bingbing in Georges Chakra Couture at the “X-Men: Days Of Future Past” New York Premiere | Tom & Lorenzo Fabulous & Opinionated

Fan-Bingbing-Georges-Chakra-Couture-X-Man-Days-Future-Past-NY-Premiere-Tom-Loenzo-Site-TLO (1)

Next up, Cinema Connection–Kate Hepburn’s Ongoing Style Story from THE PHILADELPHIA STORY | GlamAmor

50887d134be5c7bb69a4f3d40c66702fAnd…then: Photos: A look at Gregory Peck’s Wife Veronique | Vanity Fair

Passani became a fixture in Los Angeles society, thanks to her philanthropy—she was a major supporter of the American Cancer Society—and distinctive fashion sense. “She developed her style more when she was in Los Angeles; she didn’t spend her life in tailored suits, but bold Yves Saint Laurent tunics and orange and lime-green Courrèges dresses,” says her daughter. Although her mother passed away in 2012, Peck plans on paying tribute to her through an exhibition that represents her stylish Parisian influence on Los Angeles.

The pictures below, shot by Firooz Zahedi, who currently is showing his work at the Kopeikin Gallery, display Passani’s outrageous wardrobe…Click through for a glimpse into Passani’s closet.

Before I get to the last link, Hillary Clinton rises above the dirty tricks – Comment – Voices – The Independent

And finally this one…it is wonderful. A lovely way to end the post. Watch the news video…so awesome. The story is told by Maria Shriver which is logical considering the connections to the Kennedys and Special Olympics:

Sweethearts with Down syndrome to wed 30 years after meeting

Sweethearts with Down syndrome to wed 30 years after meeting   - News - TODAY.com 2014-05-18 00-58-32Video: A Texas couple who both have Down syndrome and have been best friends since childhood are getting married. Their families say it’s a celebration of what’s possible when you empower kids to dream big. NBC news special anchor Maria Shriver reports.

Austin Underwood says he has loved his fiancée, Jessica Smith, since they were 4 years old, when their mothers met at a support group for children with Down syndrome.

Thirty years later, the Dallas couple will finally tie the knot.

“I want to marry her because I love her. She’s my very own best friend,” Austin told NBC’s Maria Shriver.

The couple have grown from being playmates to prom dates and, next month, husband and wife.

I love how the mothers are holding hands during the interview. Jessica is beautiful…do watch the video, it will make you feel good.

Images for today’s post by James Montgomery Flagg as seen on Pinterest.

Enjoy your Sunday…leave any thoughts and links in the comments below.

 


Lazy Saturday: Creature Features

Godzilla1d

Happy Saturday!!

I’m feeling more lazy than usual today. I’ve been idly staring at my computer screen for about two hours–searching for interesting news and trying to figure out what to write about. Frankly, I don’t want to write about Jill Abramson’s firing, Glenn Greenwald’s book, the failed American Spring rally, or “mainstream Republicans” running against Tea Party Republicans. I feel as if I need a mental health day. I would like nothing better than to sit around today–or maybe all weekend–watching cheesy horror movies.

Fortunately, there’s a big-budget but still cheesy horror movie playing in theaters right now, Godzilla!! I’m actually considering going to see it. I’m not sure why, because I don’t recall ever watching the old-time Godzilla movies as a kid. I did used to like to watch creature features, and I still do. So maybe I’ll give the 2014 version of Godzilla a chance. It looks corny but entertaining in this early trailer. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IC3Mi9vOb_8   The movie opened in theaters yesterday and did extremely well at the box office, according to Deadline Hollywood: ‘Godzilla’ Crushes It: $98M+

UPDATED, SATURDAY, 6:47 AM: The Lizard is leaping. After the morning dust has cleared, Godzilla showed a stronger than expected Friday late night take of $38M+ and is now estimated to haul in $98M+ after the three-day weekend. And with incredible international numbers continuing to roll in, Warner Bros./Legendary Pictures has a monstrous hit on their hands. Late night numbers pushed it past $36M and surprised everyone this AM.

PREVIOUSLY, FRIDAY 10:47 PM: Godzilla is beating all expectations tonight with a $36M Friday to push its expected 3-day cume to a monstrous $90M+. The Warner Bros/Legendary Pictures pic is just demolishing the box office right now, thanks to a killer marketing campaign that teased audiences exactly to the right degree. Amazing that the monster is still popular a full 60 years after its introduction, and it’s come a long way from a man walking around in a rubber suit. The CGI eye candy, which cost $195M…is playing well on IMAX screens. It also is opening around the world at the same time to huge numbers…

Some reviews: Dana Stevens at Slate: Want to See a Giant Radioactive Lizard Whale on Stuff? Then Godzilla Delivers. This review begins with some helpful background on the Godzilla archetype:

The original Godzilla—a hugely influential Japanese monster movie made in 1954 as a direct response to a recent ripped-from-the-headlines tragedy—is a staggeringly powerful film, but in some ways it’s hard to account for the long cinematic life its title character has enjoyed. Ishirō Honda’s somber Godzilla (the Japanese title,Gojira, was created by combining the words for “gorilla” and “whale”) was a raw scream of collective anxiety from a nation that, nine years before, had survived two atomic bombings, and that was now finding itself caught, quite literally, in the fallout zone of the U.S./Soviet race to build and test an even more destructive hydrogen bomb. That original Godzilla seems so tied to the time and place of its creation that it’s hard to mentally transpose the central monster—a lumbering mega-dinosaur coaxed from the ocean depths by human experiments with radiation—into any other context. Yet that transposition has now occurred 32 times in 60 years (give or take a mecha-lizard), most recently in the form of Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla, in which the lumbering lizard is reinvented—not for the first time—as humanity’s potential helpmate.

I guess it’s not hard to see the enduring appeal of the Godzilla myth, even divorced from the context of traumatized post-World War II Japan. The arrogance of human attempts to best the gods with technology is an eternally relevant theme (Icarus, Prometheus, Faust, Frankenstein, Flubber), and there’s no gainsaying the basic fun to be had in watching a bumpy-skinned reptile as big as a skyscraper reduce an entire city to rubble beneath his gargantuan stomping feet. Plus, by now Godzilla, with his radioactive fire-breath, stumpy waving forelegs, and aversion to intact skylines, is an archetypal, almost lovable figure—a quality highly valued by film studios in search of market-ready tentpole entertainments. Edwards’ Godzilla is likely to do a decent job holding up its end of Warner Bros.’ 2014 tent: It’s a smooth, sleek, technologically awe-inspiring 3-D blockbuster with a top-shelf cast (speaking middle-to-lower-shelf dialogue most of the time, to be sure, but they do it with style).

Hmmm . . . Like Jaws I, in which we barely glimpsed the animitronic great white shark? Still that was a great movie, one of my favorite creature features of all time.

On Twitter, Ian Bremmer commented on the “slow unveiling of the monster” issue:

 

Although I wasn’t a Godzilla fan as a kid, I used to love lots of the old “creature features” that were shown on late night TV back in those days. One of my favorites was the 1954 film “Them,” which was about giant mutant ants created by radioactivity from atomic bomb tests in New Mexico.

 

 

Also from 1954, The Creature from the Black Lagoon.

 

I’ll post some more recent creature feature favorites in the comment thread, because I’m having a horrendous time with the WordPress editor today. What are your favorite creature features? Are you a Godzilla fan?

Of course, feel free to use the thread to discuss and post links on politics or any other topic that interests you.

 


Friday Nite Lite: “Clueless Star may join Fox News”

309dc334c5ecec8d0c461d6ae883ae96Good Evening

Tonight’s post begins with a headline…

‘Clueless’ star may join Fox News | TheHill

Nuff said.

h/t Prairie Weather for that one.

Seriously,

A star of the hit ’90s teen flick “Clueless” is reportedly in talks to become a Fox News Channel contributor.

Stacey Dash — who played Alicia Silverstone’s BFF, Dionne, in the 1995 movie and boasts more than 420,000 followers on Twitter — is “in talks to sign a deal” with the cable network, according to the New York Post.

The actress, 47, was the subject of online attacks back in 2012 after she endorsed then-Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s White House bid.

Well, one more little sideline before the funnies. I posted this video earlier, but I think it should be front paged…it is that good:

Now for the cartoons!

5/8 Luckovich cartoon: Oopsie | Mike Luckovich

050814-toon-luckovich-ed

 

AAEC – Political Cartoon by MStreeter, Savannah Morning News – 05/15/2014

Cartoon by MStreeter -

 

Clay Bennett editorial cartoon – Political Cartoon by Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press – 05/15/2014

Cartoon by Clay Bennett - Clay Bennett editorial cartoon

Veteran Nightmare – Political Cartoon by Rob Rogers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – 05/15/2014

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Veteran Nightmare

AAEC – Political Cartoon by David Horsey, Los Angeles Times – 05/15/2014

Cartoon by David Horsey -

 

AAEC – Political Cartoon by Ted Rall, Universal Press Syndicate – 05/16/2014

Cartoon by Ted Rall -

 

Clay Bennett editorial cartoon – Political Cartoon by Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press – 05/16/2014

Cartoon by Clay Bennett - Clay Bennett editorial cartoon

 

AAEC – Political Cartoon by John Branch, BranchToon.com/San Antonio Express-News/North America Syndicate – 05/16/2014

Cartoon by John Branch -

 

I know you all found Tina Dupuy problematic last time, but check the few things she says here: The Six Degrees of Hillary Clinton Game by Tina Dupuy

148402 600 The Six Degrees of Hillary Clinton Game cartoons

Here’s how to play: Find a horrible tragedy anywhere in the world and in six degrees or fewer—blame Hillary Clinton.

Several hundred Nigerian schoolgirls are kidnapped by the terrorist cult, Boko Haram. The media pays absolutely no attention to it. Weeks later after a social media campaign to highlight this appalling act of violence, the world finally notices: #BringBackOurGirls

Even Fox News picks up the story! Steve Doocy on Fox and Friends offers, “And who exactly made sure that they [Boko Haram] were not placed on the terror list? Hillary Clinton.”

See? The Six Degrees of Hillary Clinton Game (SDOHCG) is so easy anyone can play!

Yeah, like Fox News needs another “clueless” contributor.

 

AAEC – Political Cartoon by Chan Lowe, Sun-Sentinel – 05/16/2014

 

Cartoon by Chan Lowe -

AAEC – Political Cartoon by Ed Gamble, King Features Syndicate – 05/16/2014

Cartoon by Ed Gamble -

AAEC – Political Cartoon by David Horsey, Los Angeles Times – 05/16/2014

Cartoon by David Horsey -

 

Pathetic Pundits – Truthdig

Jay Z by Political Cartoonist Joe Heller

148544 600 Jay Z cartoons

 

5/13 Luckovich cartoon: Working ahead | Mike Luckovich

051314-toon-luckovich-ed

Rodent Raves – Political Cartoon by Steve Artley, Artleytoons – 05/10/2014

Cartoon by Steve Artley - Rodent Raves

This is an open thread…


Friday Reads: Bigots Among Us

images (36)Good Morning!

I have read the most horrifying stories this week.  It makes me wonder if a good portion of humanity has a death wish. I’m going to share a variety of links that I’ve found; and a lot of them aren’t the most uplifting, I’m afraid.

Knowledge is power.  Ignorance may be bliss to the holder but not to the folks around them. There is no lack of headlines in the area of bigotry and intolerance. This is truly discouraging to those of us that care passionately about social justice.

Crime rates have been falling recently but our incarceration rates are not. There’s a huge study out on the economic costs of our prison society and its images (37)findings are not pretty.  We’re spending billionaires of dollars locking up the poor, the uneducated, and the mentally ill in a distinctly racist way.

While crime rates have fallen 45 percent since 1990, the memo said that the incarceration rate is now at a “historically unprecedented level,” jumping 222 percent between 1980 and 2012. An African-American man who never graduated from high school has a 70 percent likelihood of being imprisoned by his mid-30s; for similarly educated white men, the rate is about 15 percent. And the United States imprisons at a rate six times greater than most peer nations, including those of the European Union, Japan, Israel, and Mexico.

The U.S. Department of Justice announced rules last month that would give the Obama administration wider latitude to extend clemency or reduce sentences for drug-related prisoners who don’t present a threat to public safety. In addition, the U.S. Sentencing Commission voted unanimously in April to reduce sentencing guidelines for certain nonviolent criminals, a move now before Congress that could go into effect Nov. 1 if lawmakers don’t take any further action.


Ronald S. Sullivan Jr.
 is a clinical professor of law and director of the Criminal Justice Institute at Harvard Law School. The program focuses on criminal practice, education, and research, and hosts a teaching clinic for third-year law students to represent indigent criminal defendants in local and juvenile courts. Sullivan spoke with the Gazette about racial and national sentencing disparities, the economic and social costs of mass incarceration, and the sentencing reforms now under consideration.

GAZETTE: According to the memo, while the overall crime rate fell 45 percent between 1990 and 2012, the rate of imprisonment has spiked 222 percent between 1980 and 2012. What’s behind this disparity? Is that strictly the result of policy decisions like mandatory minimum sentencing, repeat-offender laws, and the growth in for-profit prisons? Or are other factors at work?

SULLIVAN: That’s certainly a big piece of it. … policy decisions in respect of mandatory minimums drive the huge incarceration rate. But there are other factors as well. What those factors are is the subject of a lot of academic debate nowadays. And to be honest, we’re not exactly sure what it is. We do know that on a per-capita basis the U.S. incarcerates more people than any country in the world, including Rwanda, Russia, Cuba, all of the places one does not associate with a robust tradition of liberty. And that’s in many ways shocking.

The theory would be … with the high rates of incarceration that the crime rate would go down and then that would be followed by less incarceration because there just wouldn’t be as many crimes committed. But those numbers have gone in opposite directions. Mandatory minimums simply don’t explain all of it. Part of it, at least I think, has to do with selective law enforcement — the over-policing of certain neighborhoods, particularly minority neighborhoods and poor neighborhoods. That is to say, if police are there and looking for crimes, and over-police certain neighborhoods, you’re going to produce more defendants in particular areas. And if the populations are drawn from poor populations, they’re unable to afford to be released on bail, they’re unable to afford good lawyers, and studies show that if you’re not released on bail you tend to stay in jail after sentencing. An unfortunate reality of the United States is that far too often the justice you receive is a function of how much money you have.

The prison-industrial complex is also an important factor. It doesn’t take an economist to know that if … you make your money by people going into prison, then there’s going to be higher incarceration rates. So I think that certainly plays a role as well.

GAZETTE: What are the areas of debate among scholars?

SULLIVAN: One explanation has to do with the United States’ articulated goals of punishment. Back in the ’70s and before, rehabilitation was an articulated goal of the criminal justice system. The Supreme Court has said clearly now rehabilitation is no longer a penological goal. We look at incapacitation, we look at deterrence, and we look at retribution as goals that the penal system serves. When you take rehabilitation out of the mix, then that de-incentivizes the system from having shorter sentences because there’s no longer an affirmative goal of reintegrating people meaningfully back into the community. That’s one of the things that scholars argue drive up the incarceration rate.

The other has to do with our system of elected judges in most states. Judges who are elected, the argument runs, respond to democratic pressures. We live in a political economy where people think that more and harsher punishment is better, even though most competent data suggests that longer sentences, after a certain point … make people worse as opposed to making them better. But you have democratically elected judges who respond to the will of the people, and if that will is for longer sentences, no matter how misinformed, then judges oftentimes acquiesce to those pressures.

The other issue has to do with legislators. It, again, has to do with the political economy in which we live. With this mantra of being “tough on crime,” legislators essentially race to see who can draft legislation with the harshest, longest penalties. I think that legislators don’t believe that prosecutors will attempt to enforce the most harsh provisions of particular laws, and in that sense, from the vantage point of the legislator, it’s sort of a win-win situation: They can get the political credit for drafting an incredibly harsh law, but not really have to deal with the effects because the notion is the prosecutor will sort it out and will recommend a fair sentence. That assumption, though, just hasn’t really been borne out in reality.

GAZETTE: The current incarceration gap between white men and African-American men is particularly striking. Does that figure surprise you, and what accounts for this gap? Is access to justice a factor?

SULLIVAN: The figure does not surprise me, and it is unfortunate that the figure does not surprise me. The figure reaffirms that race insinuates itself into almost every aspect of our life still, and it has a particular salience in the criminal justice system. … Here we see the effect of over-policing much more dramatically. In our culture, unfortunately … blackness is seen as a proxy for criminality. So the same or similar conduct engaged in by a person of color is seen through a lens that views that conduct as criminal, where others simply are not taxed in the same way.

The debate over the use of lethal injections and the drugs used for state executions continues.   Three newspapers–including the UK Guardian–have sued to 8706624f946740fb5bfd634de4b31b58make public the source of drugs for these injections. Most states are trying to make that information private.  Many of the recent botched executions came from simple druggists compounding the formulations because many of the major drug manufacturers–especially those in Europe–refuse to do so.  Should the formulation and the source of death penalty drugs be kept from the public?

The growing secrecy adopted by death penalty states to hide the source of their lethal injection drugs used in executions is being challenged in a new lawsuit in Missouri, which argues that the American people have a right to know how the ultimate punishment is being carried out in their name.

The legal challenge, brought by the Guardian, Associated Press and the three largest Missouri newspapers, calls on state judges to intervene to put a stop to the creeping secrecy that has taken hold in the state in common with many other death penalty jurisdictions. The lawsuit argues that under the first amendment of the US constitution the public has a right of access to know “the type, quality and source of drugs used by a state to execute an individual in the name of the people”.

It is believed to be the first time that the first amendment right of access has been used to challenge secrecy in the application of the death penalty. Deborah Denno, an expert in execution methods at Fordham University law school in New York, said that more and more states were turning to secrecy as a way of hiding basic flaws in their procedures.

“If states were doing things properly they wouldn’t have a problem releasing information – they are imposing a veil of secrecy to hide incompetence.” “This is like the government building bridges, and trying to hide the identity of the company that makes the bolts,” said Richard Dieter of the Death Penalty Information Center. “Those involved in public service should expect public scrutiny in order to root out problems, particular when the state is carrying out the most intimate act possible – killing people.”

A Guardian survey has identified at least 13 states that have changed their rules to withhold from the public all information relating to how they get hold of lethal drugs. They include several of the most active death penalty states including Texas, which has executed seven prisoners so far this year, Florida (five), Missouri (four) and Oklahoma (three). Attention has been drawn to the secrecy issue by the botched execution of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma on 29 April in which the prisoner took 43 minutes to die, apparently in great pain, from an untested cocktail of drugs whose source was not made public.

Lockett’s lawyers had argued in advance that he might be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment as a result of the lack of information surrounding the drugs, but the state supreme court allowed the procedure to go ahead having come under intense pressure from local politicians, some of whom threatened to impeach judges.

In the wake of the events in Oklahoma, in which the prisoner writhed and groaned over a prolonged period, the state has agreed to pause for six months before carrying out any further judicial killings to give time for an internal investigation to be completed. President Obama described the Lockett execution “deeply troubling” and has asked US attorney general Eric Holder to review the way the death penalty is conducted.

Until last year, Missouri which is now executing prisoners at a rate of one a month, was open about where it obtained its lethal injection chemicals. But like many death penalty states, its drug supplies have dwindled as a result of a European-led pharmaceutical boycott, and in a desperate move to try to find new suppliers it has shrouded their identity in secrecy. In October, the state changed its so-called “black hood law” that had historically been used to guard the identity of those directly involved in the death process.

The department of corrections expanded the definition of its execution team to include pharmacies and “individuals who prescribe, compound, prepare, or otherwise supply the chemicals for use in the lethal injection procedure”. Six inmates have been executed by Missouri since the new secrecy rules came in –they went to their deaths entirely ignorant of the source or quality of the drugs used to kill them. All that is known is that the pentobarbital that Missouri deploys in executions probably came from a compounding pharmacy – an outlet that makes up small batches of the drug to order in the absence of stringent regulation.

We continue to see GLBT civil rights characterized by the right as an attack on their religious rights and their homobigoted behavior and language The-Birth-of-a-Nationwrapped up as a first amendment issue. How does the right play the victim card in a debate about limiting the rights of others?  It is doing the same things with women’s reproductive rights.

While Religious Right leaders are quick to equate criticism as an attack on their freedom of speech and religion, some of them are all too happy to limit the free speech or religious liberty of the people they disagree with. That includes the Benham brothers.

In the flurry of public appearances in the wake of the HGTV cancellation, the Benhams and their right-wing fans have portrayed themselves as committed to the principle that everyone in America should have a chance to express themselves.  On the O’Reilly Factor, David Benham denounced the gay agenda for seeking “to silence those that disagree with it, and it begins with Christians.” Jason warned that “when an idea seeks to silence any other idea that may disagree with that, then we have ourselves a problem on hand.”

But as blogger Jeremy Hooper recently pointed out, back in November 2004, David, Jason, and Flip Benham were all part of a group of about 15 people who went to a Charlotte, North Carolina city council meeting to complain about the gay pride celebration that had taken place in a city park six months earlier. They were among a group of people who had gone to the Pride event to, in Jason’s words, “tell them that Jesus loves you just the way you are, but he refuses to leave you that way.” But the Benhams and their friends were appalled at what they saw. “This is filth, this is vile and should not be allowed in our City,” said David. Jason urged city council members to reject future permits for Pride celebrations – and seemingly for any LGBT-themed event:

They have a right to apply for this permit, but you have a right and responsibility to deny it. I [implore] you not to be governed by the fear in which you feel. If you deny them this permit you will open a can of worms but you in your leadership position have to take that responsibility and you have to not allow the fear of making this homosexual community mad. You have to accept that responsibility and deny them every permit that they ask for.

In the words of Charlotte Pride organizers, “The Benham brothers once tried to silence us. They failed.”

Some Benham fans, like the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer, say flat-out that the First Amendment’s religious liberty protections were only meant for Christians and don’t apply to Muslims, Mormons or other minority faiths. Back when many self-proclaimed “religious liberty” advocates were opposing efforts by Muslims in New York to build a community center – which critics gave the inaccurate and inflammatory name of “Ground Zero Mosque” – David Benham and his father Flip were among them. According to the Anti-Defamation League, David participated in protests against the Center, calling it a “den of iniquity” and labeling Muslims “the enemy” that was attacking America.

In these public debates, “Christian” as used by Religious Right leaders often doesn’t really apply to all Christians, but only to a subset of Christians who share their right-wing politics. Other Christians don’t count.  The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins, who has bemoaned “cultural elites” who want to “silence” and “bully” people like the Benhams, recently said that pro-gay-equality Christians don’t deserve the same legal protections as he does because “true religious freedom” applies only to those with religious views that align with those of the political Right.

We’ve seen a lot of this coming from Governor Bobby Jindal who is a bully that insists that GLBT rights activists are bullies. 

Gov. Bobby Jindal’s commencement speech at Liberty University was a masterpiece in this type of dishonest projection. Posing as a champion of free speech and freedom of religion, he actually made a chilling argument in favor of stripping both of those freedoms away from ordinary Americans, businesses and anyone who might disagree with turning this country into a theocratic state. He started by defending Hobby Lobby for trying to strip contraception coverage out of their employees’ own healthcare plans. “Under the Obama regime,” he argued, “you have protection under the First Amendment as an individual, but the instant you start a business, you lose those protections. And that brings us to the second front in this silent war: the attack on our freedom of association as people of faith.”

It’s all nonsense, of course. In fact, Hobby Lobby’s intention here is to reduce religious freedom by forcing their employees to adhere to certain religious rules in order to get the benefits they already earned. ( They have a history of trying to impose their religious dogma on non-believers through other means as well.) The only people in any real danger of losing freedom are women, who are in danger of losing their freedom to use their insurance benefits in a way that fits their personal beliefs.

But Jindal was just warming up, claiming the “Obama administration” was gunning to decide “who can preach the Gospel.” This outrageous conspiracy theory was justified, in his opinion, by supposed other attacks on “free speech,” namely that TV networks are reluctant to house the opinions of open bigots. “The left no longer wants to debate. They simply want to silence us,” he said of Phil Robertson from Duck Dynasty, who was never silenced and has, to this date, been allowed to say any fool thing he wants. But he was briefly suspended from A&E, leading conservatives to decide that “free speech” means you have a right to your own TV show.

All of this has gotten me interested in again in White Supremacist movements.  I really believe that most of these Southern Republicans fall squarely 67294811_blossoms_241543binto the neoconfederate mold and aren’t that far off the KKK tree.

White supremacy is referenced in relation to specific news events as well. For example, the murder rampage by the neo-Nazi Frazier Glenn Miller, the recent weeks-long debate between pundits Ta-Nehisi Coates and Jonathan Chait about “black pathology”; birtherism; stand-your-ground laws; and the open embrace of the symbols and rhetoric of the old slave-holding Confederacy by the Republican Party have been framed and discussed in terms of white supremacy.

Conservatives and progressive often use the phrase “white supremacy” in divergent ways. Conservatives use the phrase in the service of a dishonest “colorblind” agenda, evoking extreme images of KKK members and Nazis as the exclusive and only examples of white racism in American life and politics. Conservatives use extreme caricatures of white supremacy in order to deflect and protect themselves from charges that the contemporary Republican Party is a white identity organization fueled by white racial resentment. Liberals, progressives and anti-racists use the phrase “white supremacy” to describe the overt and subtle racist practices of movement conservatism in the post-Civil Rights era, and how American society is still structured around maintaining and protecting white privilege. This analysis is largely correct: however, it often conflates concepts such as racism, white privilege, and white supremacy with one another. Language does political work. In the age of Obama, the phrase “white supremacy” is often used in political discussions like an imprecise shotgun blast or a blockbuster bomb. If the Common Good and American democracy are to be protected—countering how the right wing has used the politics of white racial resentment, racial manipulation, and hate to mobilize its voters in support of a plutocratic agenda—a more precise weapon is needed. A necessary first step in that direction requires the development of a more detailed and transparent exploration of the concept known as “white supremacy.”

tumblr_m643ofO3Mw1r194ulo2_1280One of the sure signs to me of either a racist or a misogynist or a homophobic bigot is that they all insist they have no problem women, racial minorities, and/or gay people.  The believe they are the victims by being forced to deal with any one else in terms other than their own choosing. Therein lies the problem.  Here’s a perfect example from Kristen Powers writing at USA Today.   You can’t call out bigotry without being called a bully obsessed with political correctness.  Then, you’re told that the real victims are white conservative christians.

Each week seems to bring another incident. Last week it was David and Jason Benham, whose pending HGTV show was canceled after the mob unearthed old remarks the brothers made about their Christian beliefs on homosexuality. People can’t have a house-flipping show unless they believe and say the “right” things in their life off the set? In this world, the conservative Tom Selleck never would have been Magnum, P.I.

This week, a trail-blazing woman was felled in the new tradition of commencement shaming. International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde withdrew from delivering the commencement speech at Smith College following protests from students and faculty who hate the IMF. According to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, this trend is growing. In the 21 years leading up to 2009, there were 21 incidents of an invited guest not speaking because of protests. Yet, in the past five-and-a-half years, there have been 39 cancellations.

Don’t bother trying to make sense of what beliefs are permitted and which ones will get you strung up in the town square. Our ideological overlords have created a minefield of inconsistency. While criticizing Islam is intolerant, insulting Christianity is sport. Ayaan Hirsi Ali is persona non grata at Brandeis University for attacking the prophet Mohammed. But Richard Dawkins describes the Old Testament God as “a misogynistic … sadomasochistic … malevolent bully” and the mob yawns. Bill Maher calls the same God a “psychotic mass murderer” and there are no boycott demands of the high-profile liberals who traffic his HBO show.

The self-serving capriciousness is crazy. In March, University of California-Santa Barbara women’s studies professor Mireille Miller-Young attacked a 16-year-old holding an anti-abortion sign in the campus’ “free speech zone” (formerly known as America). Though she was charged with theft, battery and vandalism, Miller-Young remains unrepentant and still has her job. But Mozilla’s Brendan Eich gave a private donation to an anti-gay marriage initiative six years ago and was ordered to recant his beliefs. When he wouldn’t, he was forced to resign from the company he helped found.

Got that? A college educator with the right opinions can attack a high school student and keep her job. A corporate executive with the wrong opinions loses his for making a campaign donation. Something is very wrong here.

The right seems to be really confused about the first amendment, which clearly deals with the relationship between the federal government, religion, the press, and the people’s free speech.  The same idiots that scream that Hobby Lobby can deny its employees contraception and say that businesses should be able to refuse to serve GLBTs will shout out a corporation that says they don’t want to be known for bigotry of any kind.  They also misunderstand the protection given to University professors when it comes to academic freedom.  Companies have to comply with the law.  They do not have to keep employees that don’t represent their corporate values.  PERIOD.

Anyway, it just amazes me that this intense amount of uncivil bigotry and hatred seemed to have burbled up again after all these years.  All it took was an African American President and a few powerful women–namely Hillary Clinton–to bring the crazy out.

I just wanted to mention that most of these silent film images come from “Birth of  a Nation” but one comes from “Broken Blossoms” also known as the “Yellow Man and the Girl”.  Both of these films were directed by DW Griffith around 1919. Both movies starred Lillian Gish and were received differently by white audiences than by the racial minorities they also depicted.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Thursday Reads: Gray Lady Down and Other News

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Good Morning!!

News broke late yesterday afternoon that New York Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson had suddenly been replaced by Managing Editor Dean Baquet. Here’s the New York Times’ own report: Times Ousts Its Executive Editor, Elevating Second in Command.

Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr., the publisher of the paper and the chairman of The New York Times Company, told a stunned newsroom that had been quickly assembled that he had made the decision because of “an issue with management in the newsroom.”

Ms. Abramson, 60, had been in the job only since September 2011. But people in the company briefed on the situation described serious tension in her relationship with Mr. Sulzberger, who was concerned about complaints from employees that she was polarizing and mercurial. She had also had clashes with Mr. Baquet.

In recent weeks, these people said, Mr. Baquet had become angered over a decision by Ms. Abramson to make a job offer to a senior editor from The Guardian, Janine Gibson, and install her alongside him in a co-managing editor position without consulting him. It escalated the conflict between them and rose to the attention of Mr. Sulzberger.

Ms. Abramson did not attend the afternoon meeting at which her dismissal was announced.

2010 Matrix Awards

The Times won eight Pulitzer Prizes under Ms. Abramson, and she won praise for journalistic efforts both in print and on the web. She had previously served as the head of the Washington bureau, and before coming to The Times was an investigative reporter at The Wall Street Journal. She co-wrote, with Ms. [Jane ] Mayer [of the New Yorker], “Strange Justice,” a book about the confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas.

But as a leader of the newsroom, she was accused by some of divisiveness and criticized for several of her personnel choices, in particular the appointment of several major department heads who did not last long in their jobs.

With Mr. Sulzberger more closely monitoring her stewardship, tensions between Ms. Abramson and Mr. Baquet escalated. In one publicized incident, he angrily slammed his hand against a wall in the newsroom. He had been under consideration for the lead job when Ms. Abramson was selected and, according to people familiar with his thinking, he was growing frustrated working with her.

Let’s see . . . Abramson was “polarizing and mercurial,” “was accused by some of divisiveness,” and her male second in command didn’t like taking orders from her, have I got that right? Is it just me, or do those sound like code words?

Now let’s see what people who don’t work for Sulzberger are saying.

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From Ken Auletta at The New Yorker: WHY JILL ABRAMSON WAS FIRED.

At the annual City University Journalism School dinner, on Monday, Dean Baquet, the managing editor of the New York Times, was seated with Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., the paper’s publisher. At the time, I did not give a moment’s thought to why Jill Abramson, the paper’s executive editor, was not at their table. Then, at 2:36 P.M. on Wednesday, an announcement from the Times hit my e-mail, saying that Baquet would replace Abramson, less than three years after she was appointed the first woman in the top job. Baquet will be the first African-American to lead the Times.

Fellow-journalists and others scrambled to find out what had happened. Sulzberger had fired Abramson, and he did not try to hide that. In a speech to the newsroom on Wednesday afternoon, he said, “I chose to appoint a new leader of our newsroom because I believe that new leadership will improve some aspects …” Abramson chose not to attend the announcement, and not to pretend that she had volunteered to step down.

Apparently, the real problem Sultzberg had with Abramson was that she was an uppity woman.

As with any such upheaval, there’s a history behind it. Several weeks ago, I’m told, Abramson discovered that her pay and her pension benefits as both executive editor and, before that, as managing editor were considerably less than the pay and pension benefits of Bill Keller, the male editor whom she replaced in both jobs. “She confronted the top brass,” one close associate said, and this may have fed into the management’s narrative that she was “pushy,” a characterization that, for many, has an inescapably gendered aspect. Sulzberger is known to believe that the Times, as a financially beleaguered newspaper, needed to retreat on some of its generous pay and pension benefits; Abramson, who spent much of her career at the Wall Street Journal, had been at the Times for far fewer years than Keller, which accounted for some of the pension disparity. Eileen Murphy, a spokeswoman for the Times, said that Jill Abramson’s total compensation as executive editor “was directly comparable to Bill Keller’s”—though it was not actually the same. I was also told by another friend of Abramson’s that the pay gap with Keller was only closed after she complained. But, to women at an institution that was once sued by its female employees for discriminatory practices, the question brings up ugly memories. Whether Abramson was right or wrong, both sides were left unhappy. A third associate told me, “She found out that a former deputy managing editor”—a man—“made more money than she did” while she was managing editor. “She had a lawyer make polite inquiries about the pay and pension disparities, which set them off.”

The other issues Auletta mentions are similar to those described in the NYT article: she had problems with Baquet and those who worked under her sometimes complained she was “brusque” (as opposed to Mr. Personality, Bill Keller?). Again, it sounds to me as if Abraham’s biggest “problem” was her gender. Mr. Baquet sounds pretty “pushy” too, but for him that was acceptable, I guess. Josh Marshall at TPM points out that:

The Times article notes in passing that Abramson reached a settlement with the Times, which makes pretty clear that whatever might have happened with disparate pay or a connection between her pressing the matter and her firing there will not be a lawsuit.

Hmmm . . . Sounds like Sultzberger thought Abramson might have grounds to sue if he didn’t settle with her.

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At Business Insider, Hunter Walker calls attention to the Times’ past problems with gender disparities in pay (also mentioned by Ken Auletta in The New Yorker piece linked above):

Auletta claimed other Times staffers were concerned about the pay disparity between Abramson and Keller. He said it brought up “ugly memories” of a 1974 lawsuit female employees made against the paper due to allegations of sex discrimination in hiring, pay, and promotion.

On Twitter, NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik subsequently confirmed Auletta’s report. Folkenflik also noted unspecified “figures at Times wonder what role gender ultimately played in (Abramson’s) ouster.”

Finally, Politico describes how the announcement impacted other New York Times employees: Invitation to a beheaading: How Times editors learned of Abramson’s ouster:

“Please come to a masthead/dept head meeting at 2:00 p.m. today in the page one conference room/3rd floor.”

That was the note top editors at The New York Times received this afternoon summoning them to an abrupt gathering in which publisher and Times Company chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. would inform them that executive editor Jill Abramson was being replaced in the No. 1 masthead spot by one of her deputies, managing editor Dean Baquet….

[T]he news…came as a shock to most of the assembled editors. There had been none of the drama or widespread discontent that led up to the famous firing of Howell Raines in 2003. In fact when they arrived in the room, their first inkling of what was about to transpire was the fact that Abramson was not present.

Sulzberger gave the same vague reasoning for the change that would be relayed in a company memo and at a full newsroom meeting shortly thereafter—that the decision had to do with Abramson’s newsroom management.

Not everyone was buying it. When Sulzberger said he was sure it doesn’t “come as a surprise to you,” video editor Bruce Headlam spoke up in Abramson’s defense, according to a person who was present. “It does come as a surprise to me,” the source recalls him saying.

Two other editors also voiced their concerns, sources with knowledge of the meeting told Capital. National editor Alison Mitchell suggested that Abramson’s firing wouldn’t sit well with a broad swath of female Timesjournalists who saw her as a role model. (Abramson became the Times‘ first female executive editor in 2011, after Bill Keller stepped down.) Assistant managing editor Susan Chira seconded that notion.

Read more at the link.

So . . . draw your own conclusions. My guess is we’ll be reading and hearing quite a bit more about the Times and its history of gender discrimination over the next few days.

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In other news . . . links to some stories that interested me:

The Hill: US using drones to find kidnapped Nigerian girls.

Yahoo News: Missouri lawmakers pass 3-day abortion wait period.

TPM: Christie Predicts BridgeGate Will Have Zero Effect On His Political Future.

NPR: Election-Year Politics Dooms Energy Bill, Averts Pipeline Vote.

Politico: Snowden Is The Kind of Guy I Used to Recruit—in Russia (by former CIA director of operations Jack Devine).

io9: The Ultimate Proof That Keeping Orca Whales in Captivity is Monstrous.

Digg: Gone Girls — The Female Sociopath.

CNN: 9 wildfires spring up around San Diego, more than 9,000 acres burned.

CBS News: Turkey mining accident toll nears 300 as anger at PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan boils over.

NYT: Captain and 3 Officers Charged With Murder in Korean Ferry Sinking.

What else is happening? Please post your links on any topic in the comment thread.