Tuesday Reads: A Little Bit of This and That

mishmash

Good Morning!

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

Texas storms leave multiple dead, 12 missing.

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

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

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

Scene from Houston last night

Scene from Houston last night

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Houston flooding

Houston flooding

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scene outside Grand Forks Walmart early this morning

Scene outside Grand Forks Walmart early this morning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Johnson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the letter at the Pando link.

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

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

Some Duggar updates:

Anna and Josh Duggar

Anna and Josh Duggar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He then broke out in laughter.

Not so funny now …

Not funny then either, IMHO.

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


Monday Reads: Human Relations or not

peace

Good Afternoon!

Today is Memorial Day but it’s also known as Decoration Day! It’s the day we celebrate the sacrifice of the soldiers and sailors who gave their lives in service to their country. Wouldn’t it be nice if no one lost their lives to war?

“Three years after the Civil War ended, on May 5, 1868, the head of an organization of Union veterans — the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) — established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. Maj. Gen. John A. Logan declared that Decoration Day should be observed on May 30. It is believed that date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country.”

The passage of the National Holiday Act of 1971 by Congress made it an official holiday.

I have a few news items to share with you.  As an economist, I cannot understand the contribution of John Nash’s game theory to our understanding of high concentrated markets like duopoly or oligopoly.  Dr. Nash and his wife were killed in a car accident over the weekend.

US mathematician John Nash, who inspired the Oscar-winning film A Beautiful Mind, has died in a car crash with his wife, police have said.

Nash, 86, and his 82-year-old wife Alicia were killed when their taxi crashed in New Jersey, they said.

The mathematician is renowned for his work in game theory, winning the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1994.

His breakthroughs in maths – and his struggles with schizophrenia – were the focus of the 2001 film.

Russell Crowe, who played him, tweeted: “Stunned… My heart goes out to John & Alicia & family. An amazing partnership. Beautiful minds, beautiful hearts.”

The film’s director, Ron Howard, also tweeted his tribute to the “brilliant” John Nash and his “remarkable” wife.

Alicia Nash helped care for her husband, and the two later became prominent mental health advocates.

I loved the movie that detailed the mental health struggles of Nash and how he because the hero of his own life.

BB and I talk a lot about homeschooling and how–in the majority of cases–it’s a clear form of child abuse.  Children really need to be with their peers to learn socialization skills as well as learn about their idea of 8828027484_5561ee6ec7_mself in a world full of different kinds of people.   Many parents that home school are in it to assert control over their children and most rely on dubious curricula.  No where is this more clear than  in the Christianist Cults identified by BB in her post on Saturday. The more we learn about the kinds of things these children have been subjected to, the more outrage we should feel. Children are not their parents property to use and abuse for their personal hang ups.  Here’s a disturbing item on how to handle sexual abuse in home schooling environments but out by some even scarier people.  It undoubtedly leaves children quite scarred.  This is the material from Gothard-the Grabber–covered a bit in BB’s post. The details are just profoundly upsetting to any one that cares about young girls.

According to its website, the ATI is a “home education program” that provides parents with curriculum and support to teach their children with a Biblical worldview.

The ATI operates under the Institute of Basic Life Principles, a conservative Christian nonprofit group.

The group came under fire last year after its founder, Bill Gothard, resigned in the wake of sexual harassment allegations against him.

Gothard was accused of hiring young women, some of them teens, to work for him and then making unwanted advances toward them. The allegations stretched back for decades, the Christian Post reported.

The family has also discussed sending their sons to an ATI program called ALERT, which “focuses on training men in Biblical disciplines and character within the framework of learning skills for crisis response and ministry support.”

After the sexual abuse allegations against Josh Duggar emerged, documents from ATI’s programs about sexual abuse came under heavy scrutiny.

One document in particular, called “Lessons From Moral Failures in a Family,” is particularly striking because it describes circumstances eerily similar to what allegedly happened in the Duggar home.

The document was shared by Recovering Grace, a website dedicated to those impacted by the teachings of Gothard and ATI.

The website says the document was distributed in the late 1990s by ATI at several of its conferences.

The document describes a situation in which social workers visited a home and informed the parents that their oldest son had sexually abused younger members of his family.

According to the document, the boy repented for what he had done and was later asked to answer a list of questions in writing to shed more insight on what happened.

The questions included asking what factors had contributed to his sin, what could have been done to prevent it, and what factors “in the home contributed to immodesty and temptation.”

“The information he gives is so helpful that every parent should read it and diligently apply the lessons that this family learned the hard way,” the document states.

The most striking part of the document comes when the boy seems to blame his actions on the lack of “modesty” in his home, especially when it came to his young sisters.

The boy wrote that modesty was a “factor” in his actions because it “was not at the level is should have been in my family.”

“It was not uncommon for my younger sibling to come out of their baths naked or with a towel,” he wrote.

He also said his younger sisters acted inappropriately when they wore dresses, saying they “did not behave in them as they should.”

He then said his sisters didn’t realize what they were doing to him because they didn’t realize their “own nakedness,” and it wasn’t taught properly to them. He seems to blame this on his mother, who he says didn’t see the human body as a big deal because she is a nurse.

The boy said he spoke with his mother who had “no idea” how “visual” men are sexually compared to women. He said changes have since been made in his home.

“This was not a major reason for the offending, but it allowed my little sister to be open to what I made her do,” he wrote.

He then wrote, “A different lifestyle, with more modesty, might have prevented what happened.”

The document then provides guidelines as to how to prevent this type of situation. These include “[insisting] on modesty at all times” and “[not allowing] boys to change diapers.”

memorial-day-vintage-postcard-2This advice filled with victim shaming and blaming is totally disgusting. The more information that comes out about the Duggar scandal, the more that fans of the show realize how the behavior they’ve seen in the girls is explained by their molestation and shaming. There are all kinds of tweets that mention how their behavior differs from the show that tries to show a happy cheery family that I admit to never having watched. Tbogg lists a series of tweets that express concern for the girls, something that has failed to reach any critical level among the  Quivering Cult and Mike Huckabee.

Fans express concern and support for Duggar daughters on Twitter: ‘Run away and be free!

In their statement to the media, parents Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar — who hushed up the scandal — mentioned “God” six times without mentioning their daughters once.

Fans of the show, and of the daughters in particular, expressed more support for the girls on Twitter, with one advising eldest daughter Jana to “Run away and be free!”

Many noted that some of the daughters seemed to have a darker side on the normally bright and peppy show, and wondered if it was a manifestation of being molested when they were little.

Particular attention is being paid to 25-year-old Jana Duggar, known as “Cinderella Duggar,” because she is unmarried, still lives at home, and is treated like a maid, taking care of the younger Duggars.

card00780_frWhat is even more disturbing is that an Arkansas State Senator is calling for the police chief’s head who released the Duggar records on a FOI request.

A state senator from Northwest Arkansas is calling for the Springdale police chief to be fired over the recent release of a 2006 police report detailing accusations that Josh Duggar as a teenager molested five underage girls.

Sen. Bart Hester, R-Cave Springs, said the girls have been re-victimized now that the report is public. He said Police Chief Kathy O’Kelley acted recklessly in releasing the report and should be held accountable.

“The law to protect minors’ identities is not a suggestion,” Hester, pictured, said Saturday (May 23). “So sad to see the person charged with protecting the community being so reckless and irresponsible. I believe it is unavoidable that the Springdale police chief should be terminated. She has re-victimized these young ladies.”

Springdale Mayor Doug Sprouse said O’Kelley and Springdale City Attorney Ernest Cate determined after researching the matter that the report had to be released under law.

“From every indication I have the chief and city attorney reluctantly did what they had to do to comply with the state FOI (freedom of information) law,” Sprouse said Saturday (May 23).

The Springdale police report was obtained by In Touch Weekly magazine and posted on the magazine’s website this week. The names are redacted in the report. On May 21, Washington County Juvenile Judge Stacey Zimmerman issued a court order that the police report be destroyed and expunged from the public record.

That’s great.  Fire a police chief for doing his job!  Makes perfect sense in the twisted authoritarian minds of those trapped in Christianist cults.

In other news, hateful expressions of racism are still resplendent all over our country.  This is an example from New Orleans. It’s hit the press now but most of us that know the Neville family received notice about 5 minutes after it happened.  I’m still pretty shocked frankly.  This is a prime example of a privileged little white boy who got a job from his general manager father and just seems to think he can do anything to any one.

The waiter who wrote the N-word on a New Orleans restaurant receipt knew what he was doing when he unleashed the racial slur that caused intense backlash and calls for boycotts, according to one former coworker.

“I printed those receipts 50 times a day. I know for a fact he knew it would show up on his receipt,” a former Huck Finn’s waitress told the Daily News. “I was like, are you that hateful that you would put that on the receipt?”

Dakota Crochet, 23, was fired from the French Quarter sports bar this week after the phrase “N—– 100% dislike” appeared on a check he gave to a group of black customers Thursday.

One of the diners, Liryca Neville Branch — the daughter of New Orleans musician Cyril Neville — is now mulling a lawsuit and demanding a personal apology from both the canned waiter and the restaurant’s management.

“I’ve never had anything like this happen before to me,” she said. “Trust me — this is not over. I refuse to let this die out.”

Branch, 33, was eating lunch with three coworkers when they were given a bill with the racial slur in all capitals staring them in the face.

Another disturbing racist letter was sent to a family in Lindenhurst NY.md6

Suffolk County police are investigating a possible hate crime targeting an African-American family in Lindenhurst.

Ronica Copes, a resident of the suburban neighborhood, received a letter saying “YOU DON’T BELONG HERE” and other hateful words on Thursday.

Understandably so, she was disappointed at the sight of the hateful letter.

“Unbelievable but then it’s not…our daily reality, I’ve just never seen it in this form,” Copes posted on Facebook.

The writer of the flyer who says “Lidenhurst is 84 percent white” urges Copes in bold capital letters to “LEAVE AS SOON SHE CAN” because “IT WILL BE BETTER FOR ALL OF US.”

The racist letter gained the attention of  county executive Steven Bellone, who lashed out against the author of the flyer in a statement Friday.

“To the coward who committed a hate crime against an innocent family in Lindenhurst — There is no place for intolerance in Suffolk County.  I know the Suffolk County Police Department will do everything possible to solve this hate crime, out you and see you punished. I stand together with all Lindenhurst residents who decry this act of hatred. This community and all of Suffolk County are better than that.”

While police continue their investigation, Copes is thankful for the support she’s received during the ordeal.

So, today is a day to remember all of the beautiful minds that we’ve lost. It is also a day to ensure that the not-so-beautiful minds don’t get away with ruining other people’s lives. On many levels, we are still fighting the Civil War.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Wednesday Reads: An uneasy trend

39d1613708cbfde85dcd84731313e5cbHello

Just can’t seem to bring myself round to reading any news lately. I have spent most of my time immersed in episodes of Foyle’s War. What an incredible series, if anyone has Netflix….

Anyway, so for today’s news reads, it will be a lazy link dump. The latest on the Amtrak accident will be at the bottom of the post.

Just to highlight something before we get to the hard core stuff:

Remember that black man found dead, who supposedly “hung” himself from a swingset in South Carolina?

6c65a16190169620760d6d9d13a26db9Check this out: Black Man Found Hanged From Tree in Greensboro, Georgia – NBC News.com

A black man who’d recently been questioned in connection with the death of a white woman was found dead hanging from a tree Monday morning in rural Greensboro, Georgia, police said. Local and state investigators said there was nothing to immediately suggest foul play.

Greensboro Police Chief Ossie Mapp told NBC News that a neighbor called 911 about 9 a.m. ET to report finding a body behind a house on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. Police discovered the body of Roosevelt Champion III, 43, who Champion didn’t live at the address in Greensboro, in east-central Georgia between Athens and Augusta, Mapp said.

Champion’s body was suspended by tie-down strap similar to those used to secure cargo on the roofs of vehicles, Mapp said.

There were no visible wounds on Champion’s body, his feet were scraping the ground and his knees were slightly buckled, suggesting that he hadn’t been lifted into the tree, said Georgia Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Joe Wooten, who is in charge of the investigation. Wooten and Mapp said it’s too early to determine the formal cause of death, which is pending an autopsy.

924dcb7b423f9a51a51916680d18236fBut Wooten said Champion was questioned at least twice last week in a homicide case involving the death of a white woman. In the end, no charges were filed, he said. Details of that investigation weren’t immediately available.

“I understand that there is a lot of concern” in the community because the victim was a black man who was hanged in the Deep South, Wooten said. “Because of that, we’re going to be as transparent as we can be.”

Okay, whatever…

Champion’s family does not believe it was suicide: Death of G.A. Man Found Hanging Ruled a Suicide — NYMag

Many suspected foul play when a black man recently questioned in the murder of a white woman was found hanging from a tree in Georgia on Monday, but his death has been ruled a suicide. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation said an autopsy found no evidence of trauma to the body of Roosevelt Champion III, and his hands and feet were not bound. However, his family refused to accept that explanation. “I’m angry, I’m angry because I don’t have answers,” Miranda Wright, one of Champion’s sisters, told NBC News. “He’d do a lot of things but he wouldn’t have harmed himself, I doubt it.”

05e1596df83058e3e8b4ac7902113895…but keep in mind, just a few counties over from where Champion was found hanging from the tree:

Nine Georgia deputies fired over black inmate’s death | Reuters

Nine sheriff’s deputies in Georgia were fired on Friday over the New Year’s Day death of a black inmate who had been placed in restraints, officials said.

The dismissals come amid a series of killings by police in cities including of Baltimore, New York, and Ferguson, Missouri over the past year that have raised questions about officers’ use of lethal force, especially against black men and other minority groups.

The Chatham County Sheriff’s Office said its decision was based on an internal review and a separate probe by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation into the Jan. 1 death of 22-year-old Matthew Ajibade.

67ab5a4d880f4b9a0f1557015b694363Officials said he injured three deputies while being booked into jail on charges of domestic violence, battery and resisting arrest. Ajibade, a college student, was then placed in an isolation cell and later found unresponsive, officials said.

The local Savannah Morning News reported that area clergy members said in a letter to the sheriff’s office this week that Ajibade suffered from bipolar disorder. They also said he was handcuffed to a restraining chair when officials used a taser on him, according to the News.

The Sheriff’s office said it had turned over its findings to the county prosecutor to weigh possible criminal charges. The office said it would not make its report available unless a local court rules the findings are subject to release or the prosecutor finishes investigating.

b0a49517c5319d733a906c66e38f6e0eThe office did note in Friday’s statement however that among the changes instituted following Ajibade’s death and the subsequent investigations was a “clear written policy of when tasers may not be used.”

And while you are thinking about all this goings on in Georgia….‘The Nightly Show’ skewers Georgia educators | www.ajc.com

Monday night’s episode of “The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore” focused on three stories of racism and bigotry that have been trending in the news. Two of those stories involved Georgia educators.

“The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore” has been making waves since its premiere in January. The new show, a spinoff of “The Daily Show,” focuses less on the media’s coverage of political news (that’s Jon Stewart’s job) and more on trending news topics.

edaa5ff3241ec9ed0422f6cd8f60d233The show begins with a monologue by host Larry Wilmore and ends with a roundtable discussion that often features one comedian, one celebrity and experts on the subjects being discussed.

Last night’s show began with host Larry Wilmore discussing the remarks made by Principal Nancy Gordeuk at the graduation ceremony of Stone Mountain’s TNT Academy. The video — of Gordeuk calling the crowd “goobers,” “cowards” and (after accidentally dismissing the crowd before the Valedictorian’s speech) yelling,“Look who’s leaving? All the black people.” — was played.

Wilmore then played the video clip of Gordeuk claiming the devil was responsible for her comments.

The show then switched focus to Nancy Perry, the Dublin, Georgia, teacher that was removed from the classroom after telling students President Barack Obama was not Christian, if their parents voted for Obama they were not Christian, and the President is an “evil Muslim.”

Here are the best quotes from Wilmore’s monologue:

 “The devil? First of all, everyone knows the devil hasn’t been back in Georgia since he lost that fiddling competition.”

“A Georgia teacher tells her students Obama is an evil Muslim. In a related story, she’s now the front-runner for the Republican primary!”

d80cc1c20827139a5a935e913cdf1af9(After guessing what Ledbetter called the President) “Evil Muslim, I almost went with that! I had huge fan of late term abortions.”

“Hey Georgia educators, can I talk to you for a sec? If people wanted their kids to learn coded racism, false truths about the president and be talked down to, they would homeschool them. And leave them watching Fox News all day.”

“They (parents) have their kids in a Georgia public school to learn actual facts. You know, like the Civil War should actually be called the ‘War of Northern Aggression.’ So teach them what’s right and leave your half-baked, unsubstantiated opinions where they belong: Thanksgiving dinner.”

Wilmore was then joined for a round table discussion with comedian and show contributor Mike Yard, comedian Rachel Feinstein, and film and television producer (and Georgia resident) Will Packard.

The best quotes from the roundtable:

“It’s weird, it’s almost like black people can’t do anything right now. Everything we do is stereotypical. We like chicken, that’s bad. We like watermelon, ‘Ehh, they like that watermelon’. They leave when you dismiss them? ‘Look at these Negros, just doing what we tell them to do.’” – Mike Yard

6188f584a1ffef532abdc63e60b2ec4d“If you look, it was the black people leaving … But here’s the thing: If you were a student or parent and had to be subjected to this crazy racist principal all year and finally you graduate? You would get the hell out of there too!” – Will Packard

“People always blame the devil too. I thinks it’s okay, like if you murder your kids, blame the devil, but not for casual, everyday racism.” – Rachel Feinstein

Put this is perspective…or context with the rest of the shit going on in the US of late.

Which brings me to this: Shakesville: And Again

924dcb7b423f9a51a51916680d18236fjIn March, 19-year-old Tony Robinson, a black man, was killed by Madison, Wisconsin, Police Officer Matthew Kenny following an altercation, according to police. Today, the prosecutor announced that Kenny will not face charges.

“I conclude that this tragic and unfortunate death was the result of a lawful use of deadly police force and that no charges should be brought against Officer Kenny in the death of Tony Robinson Jr.,” Ismael Ozanne, the Dane County district attorney, announced Tuesday afternoon at a news conference.

…Robinson’s death on March 6 prompted days of sustained, peaceful demonstrations in Wisconsin’s second-largest city. Police say they were responding to multiple calls about a disturbance involving Robinson, including calls that said he had assaulted other people and ran into traffic.

In a brief statement after the shooting, police said that when they found Robinson, “a struggle ensued” and he was shot and killed. Kenny was placed on paid administrative leave, and the police chief apologized for the shooting and asked for patience during the investigation.

…Ozanne, who was appointed in 2010, is a lifelong Madison resident and the first black district attorney in Wisconsin history, according to his office. He said that he viewed his responsibilities through this lens as “a man who understands the pain of unjustified profiling” and described discussions he has had recently with community members who are distrustful of the criminal justice system.

“My decision will not bring Tony Robinson Jr. back,” Ozanne said Tuesday. “My decision will not end the racial disparities that exist in the justice system, in our justice system.”

924dcb7b423f9a51a51916680d18236fkWelp.

Robinson, of course, being dead, was unavailable to tell his version of events. But, according to Kenny, he chased Robinson into a building, where Robinson hit him in the head and so he “opened fire after he feared that he would be hit again and his gun taken and used to shoot him or others. Kenny fired seven shots in three seconds, and all of the shots hit Robinson on the front of his body.”

Toxicology shows Robinson was high, but what the fuck? Shoot him over repeatedly killing him? Dead? I don’t get it.

856d0cc00487daaf6beecbb393df3a68The Latest: Protesters seek walkout over Wisconsin shooting – GreenwichTime

The rest in of it in dump format:

Did Jeb Bush just commit a War Crime in Justifying the Iraq War? | Informed Comment

Jon Stewart Slams Jeb Bush For Name-Dropping W. On Foreign Policy | Crooks and Liars

ALLEN WEST WOULD GET THE FJM TREATMENT IF HE WASN’T SUCH A TERRIBLE AND UNFOCUSED WRITER | Gin and Tacos

Allen West Got Sharia Law All Over Him In The Walmart Checkout Line | Wonkette

98f690472d5a2663f25cc01d746a08bbNBA Promo Thinks It’s Hysterical to Hurl Your Girlfriend Across the Room | Mediaite

Reporter Shauna Hunt Shuts Down Fuck Her Right in the Pussy | Mediaite

Toronto FC Fan Fired By Hydro One Over Vulgar ‘FHRITP’ Incident | Crooks and Liars

Women Harmed by Unpredictable Scheduling | Al Jazeera America

Health Department: Insurers Must Cover All Birth Control Methods

Reproductive rights remain brightest partisan dividing line | MSNBC

be170528f071cc32394000abc46fd60c5 Ways to Stop Bad Attitudes About Women in Power | Tabby Biddle

Texas House Approves Scarlet Letter for Obamacare | The Bob and Chez Show | News and Politics Podcast and Blog

Bernik: Sandra Lee’s condition splits doctors’ opinions – NY Daily News

Toyota and Nissan recall 6.5 million cars over airbags – BBC News

And the latest on the Amtrak Derailment:

At least six die in Philadelphia train derailment, scores hurt | Reuters

Philadelphia Amtrak Crash: Black Box Recovered, Mayor Says – NBC News.com

Amtrak train crash: Derailment happened on same stretch of track as 1943 Franklin Junction disaster – Americas – World – The Independent

This is an open thread…


Thursday Reads: Corporate Media Enables Victim Blaming in Death of Freddie Gray

View of East Baltimore from Amtrak train (credit Dave Troy http://davetroy.com/posts/from-the-train-baltimore-looks-like-hell

View of East Baltimore from Amtrak train (credit Dave Troy http://davetroy.com/posts/from-the-train-baltimore-looks-like-hell)

Good Morning!!

The victim-blaming flew thick and fast last night after The Washington Post published a self-serving leak from an anonymous Baltimore murderer policeman. According to the Post report, Freddie Gray severed his own spinal cord, crushed his own voice box and gave himself severe brain injuries in order to get back at the cops who beat him, dragged him to a police van as he screamed in agony and left him unbelted during a long “rough ride” to the police station.

From the WaPo story:

A prisoner sharing a police transport van with Freddie Gray told investigators that he could hear Gray “banging against the walls” of the vehicle and believed that he “was intentionally trying to injure himself,” according to a police document obtained by The Washington Post.

The prisoner, who is currently in jail, was separated from Gray by a metal partition and could not see him. His statement is contained in an application for a search warrant, which is sealed by the court. The Post was given the document under the condition that the prisoner not be named because the person who provided it feared for the inmate’s safety.

The document, written by a Baltimore police investigator, offers the first glimpse of what might have happened inside the van. It is not clear whether any additional evidence backs up the prisoner’s version, which is just one piece of a much larger probe.

Gray was found unconscious in the wagon when it arrived at a police station on April 12. The 25-year-old had suffered a spinal injury and died a week later, touching off waves of protests across Baltimore, capped by a riot Monday in which hundreds of angry residents torched buildings, looted stores and pelted police officers with rocks.

Abandoned row houses, Perlman Place, Baltimore

Abandoned row houses, Perlman Place, Baltimore

That solves that mystery then, right?

Um . . . . no. That tall tale is just likely to inflame more anger and protests.

Watch this CNN video of the Freddie Gray arrest posted at Slate if you can handle it. It shows police lifting and pushing Gray into the van because he can’t move at least one of his legs. Several times Gray screams in agony as police lift him into the van and leave him unbelted despite his injuries.

A second bystander-filmed video of Freddie Gray’s April 12 arrest in Baltimore—after which he was hospitalized and died—appears to show Gray in substantial pain before being put into a police vehicle.

Initial video of Gray’s arrest also appeared to depict him in pain as an onlooker shouted that Gray’s leg was broken….both videos—and witness reports that Gray was struck and “bent up” by the officers who arrested him—seem to suggest the possibility that he was injured before being put into the van.

Have I told you lately how much I despise the Washington Post? At least they did publish this piece by Michael E. Miller this morning:

Those stories that Freddie Gray had a pre-existing spinal injury are totally bogus.

One thing is certain…Freddie Gray did not have a pre-existing spinal injury.

Yet, that was the story circulating on a handful of conservative Web sites Tuesday. In an “exclusive” quoting anonymous sources, the Web site The Fourth Estate reported that “Freddie Gray’s life-ending injuries to his spine may have possibly been the result of spinal and neck surgery that he allegedly received a week before he was arrested, not from rough [sic] excessively rough treatment or abuse from police.” The site claimed his injury was from a car accident….

“If this is true, then it is possible that Gray’s spinal injury resulting from his encounter with the Baltimore Police was not the result of rough-handling or abuse, but rather a freak accident that occurred when Gray should have been at home resting, not selling drugs,” the site reported right above images of documents pertaining to a civil lawsuit involving Gray.

“The police didn’t mistreat him at all; he mistreated himself,” the report concluded.

Abandoned row houses in Baltimore

Abandoned row houses in Baltimore

A$$holes.

But the images on the Fourth Estate actually relate to Gray’s lead paint lawsuit, the Baltimore Sun revealed. An attorney representing the Gray family confirmed that the case concerned lead paint, not a spinal cord injury a week before Freddie Gray’s arrest.

“We have no information or evidence at this point to indicate that there is a prior pre-existing spinal injury,” said Jason Downs, an attorney representing one of Gray’s relatives, told the Sun. “It’s a rumor.”

And yet that rumor might have caused real damage in a country already polarized on the subject of race and the police. The story quickly spread to several other Web sites, such as Free Republic and the Conservative Tree House, which called Gray’s supposedly pre-existing injury “a potential game changing discovery. A site called New York City Guns ran the headline “Dead Baltimore Drug Dealer Had Spinal Surgery DAYS Before He Collapsed in Police Van (Rioters Say ‘OOPS’).”

F**king a$$holes! I’m so sick of this garbage from so-called “conservatives.”

From this morning’s Baltimore Sun: The truth about Freddie Gray’s ‘pre-existing injury from car accident.’

Paperwork was filed in December allowing Gray and his sister, Fredericka to each collect an $18,000 payment from Peachtree Settlement Funding, records show. In exchange, Peachtree would have received a $108,439 annuity that was scheduled to be paid in $602 monthly installments between 2024 and 2039.

In her documents, Fredericka Gray checked “other” when asked to describe the type of accident. She also said that the date of the accident was “94/99″ and that she was a minor when the case was settled.

In his documents, Freddie Gray checked “work injury, medical malpractice and auto accident” as the type of accident. When asked to explain, he also wrote something that is unreadable. He also wrote something unreadable when asked if he was a minor when the case was settled.

Baltimore, Md -- 12/2/11 -- The rear of a vacant house, marked with "X" on the left, where a 13-year-old girl was raped in October. The house at 825 N. Caroline was owned by the city for years and last year the city transferred it through a swap with a developer.  Kim Hairston [The Baltimore Sun ]

Baltimore, Md — 12/2/11 — The rear of a vacant house, marked with “X” on the left, where a 13-year-old girl was raped in October. The house at 825 N. Caroline was owned by the city for years and last year the city transferred it through a swap with a developer. Kim Hairston [The Baltimore Sun ]

Gray’s attorney says there is no evidence he had any kind of preexisting injury and there was no car accident.

As children, Gray and his two sisters were found to have damaging lead levels in their blood, which led to educational, behavioral and medical problems, according to a lawsuit they filed in 2008 against the owner of a Sandtown-Winchester home the family rented for four years.

While the property owner countered in the suit that other factors could have contributed to the children’s deficits — including poverty and their mother’s drug use — the case was settled before going to trial in 2010. The terms of the settlement are not public.

Even the Free Republic has now withdrawn their story on the rumors, according to the Sun article. But that won’t stop Fox News and other right wing sources from spreading the lies.

Now two important articles about the real roots of the riots that broke out in Baltimore on Monday.

TPM Cafe:

The Role The Police Played In Sparking The Baltimore Violence, by Lawrence Brown.


Tuesday Reads: Baltimore Burning

Baltimore police confront violent protesters

Baltimore police confront violent protesters

Good Morning.

One of the advantages of being old is that you can remember quite a bit of history. I remember the riots that tore apart American cities in April, 1968, following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. The assassination was only the trigger that set off the anger that had been building for years in people who felt disrespected and desperate. One of those riots took place in Baltimore. Spiro Agnew was governor of Maryland when it happened. Soon he would be Richard Nixon’s Vice President. Nixon ran on a “law and order” platform, and as president he initiated the “war on drugs.”

Here’s a description of Baltimore in April, 1968, from someone who was there.

Armored troop carriers rolled down the streets over deep tread marks in the soft blacktop. Tanks had preceded them. There were troops already bivouaced in Druid Hill Park. It wasn’t a town in Czechoslovakia, or Poland, or Afghanistan. It was Crabtown, grave-site of Edgar Allen Poe, birthplace of the United States’ national anthem, and headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church. In the United States.

It was Bal’more, Mar’lan’. It was the time we call 1968. King had just been assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, and city officials had persuaded Governor Spiro Theodore Agnew to call in the National Guard.

Houses and businesses had burned before, and firemen had been shot before in the inner city, but troops occupying the city, this was new.

Sound familiar?

Baltimore in April, 1968

Baltimore in April, 1968

 

Baltimore in April 1968

Baltimore in April 1968

 

Forty-seven years later, Baltimore is burning again. This time the trigger was the death of Freddie Gray after a beating by police that was caught on video by a bystander. Why is anyone surprised by the violence? It was bound to happen again in one of many cities where militarized police forces target poor neighborhoods and police officers kill black citizens with impunity because they know they will go unpunished. We’ve seen black men die at the hands of police again and again in the past year–in Ferguson, Long Island, Cleveland, Dayton, Los Angeles, New York City, and many more cities.

This time, Baltimore Maryland’s governor is Larry Hogan. Forty-seven years later, his solution is the same as Agnew’s–call in the National Guard to shut down violent protests. Will it work? Maybe it will suppress the anger for a time, but it will remain simmering under the surface until Americans deal with the real problems behind it.

The good news in 2015 is that, thanks to cell phone cameras, Americans are finally seeing in real time the inevitable results of bad policing, racial profiling, and economic inequality. Will anything change this time?

This morning I’ve collected some of the best news reports and opinions I could find on the latest outbreak of violence over a police killing–this time in Baltimore.

Baltimore April 2015

Baltimore April 2015

From The Baltimore Sun: Riots erupt across West Baltimore, downtown.

Violence and looting overtook much of West Baltimore on Monday, injuring more than a dozen police officers and leaving buildings and vehicles in flames.

As night fell, looters took to Mondawmin Mall and a Save-A-Lot and Rite Aid in Bolton Hill, loading up cars with stolen goods. About 10 fire crews battled a three-alarm fire at a large senior center under construction at Chester and Gay streets, as police officers stood guard with long guns.

About 10 p.m., police confirmed shots were fired at an officer in the area of Virginia Avenue and Reisterstown Road in Northwest Baltimore. The officer was not hit and the suspect fled.

Fifteen police officers were injured in a clash with school-age children that began around 3 p.m., and two remain hospitalized, police Col. Darryl DeSousa said in a press conference Monday night. Earlier, police spokesman Capt. Eric Kowalczyk said one officer was unresponsive and others suffered broken bones.

Police arrested 27 people, DeSousa said.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake declared a curfew across the city starting Tuesday and for the next week, from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. for adults and 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. for children aged 14 and younger. She drew a distinction between peaceful protesters and “thugs” she said engaged in rioting Monday intend on “destroying our city.”

“It’s idiotic to think that by destroying your city, you’re going to make life better for anybody,” Rawlings-Blake said.

At Rawlings-Blake’s request, Gov. Larry Hogan signed an executive order declaring a state of emergency and activating the Maryland National Guard. The order does not affect citizens’ rights, but is required to activate the Guard and authorize federal assistance, Hogan spokeswoman Erin Montgomery said. It is not “martial law,” Maryland National Guard Adjutant General Linda Singh said.

Read much more at the Sun link.

Baltimore, April 2015

Baltimore, April 2015

The riots began shortly after the funeral of Freddie Gray, who was killed while in police custody  on April 12. From the Atlantic: The Mysterious Death of Freddie Gray.

Freddie Gray’s death on April 19 leaves many unanswered questions. But it is clear that when Gray was arrested in West Baltimore on the morning of April 12, he was struggling to walk. By the time he arrived at the police station a half hour later, he was unable to breathe or talk, suffering from wounds that would kill him.

Gray died Sunday from spinal injuries. Baltimore authorities say they’re investigating how the 25-year-old was hurt—a somewhat perverse notion, given that it was while he was in police custody, and hidden from public view, that he apparently suffered injury. How it happened remains unknown. It’s even difficult to understand why officers arrested Gray in the first place. But with protestors taking to the streets of Baltimore since Gray’s death on Sunday, the incident falls into a line of highly publicized, fatal encounters between black men and the police….
Black men dying at the hands of the police is of course nothing new, but the nation is now paying attention and getting outraged.Authorities can’t say if there was a particularly good reason why police arrested Gray. According to the city, an officer made eye contact with Gray, and he took off running, so they pursued him. Though he’d had scrapes with the law before, there’s no indication he was wanted at the time. And though he was found with a switchblade, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said, “We know that having a knife is not necessarily a crime.”
Police wouldn’t have found the knife if they hadn’t chased after Gray and searched him with no probable cause. They claim he ran when he saw police, but is that a crime? I don’t think so.
Friends and family gather for Freddie Gray's funeral

Friends and family gather for Freddie Gray’s funeral

Police brutality in Baltimore is nothing new. In September 2014, The Baltimore Sun published an investigative report on police violence against citizens: Undue Force. A brief excerpt:

Over the past four years, more than 100 people have won court judgments or settlements related to allegations of brutality and civil rights violations. Victims include a 15-year-old boy riding a dirt bike, a 26-year-old pregnant accountant who had witnessed a beating, a 50-year-old woman selling church raffle tickets, a 65-year-old church deacon rolling a cigarette and an 87-year-old grandmother aiding her wounded grandson.

Those cases detail a frightful human toll. Officers have battered dozens of residents who suffered broken bones — jaws, noses, arms, legs, ankles — head trauma, organ failure, and even death, coming during questionable arrests. Some residents were beaten while handcuffed; others were thrown to the pavement.

And in almost every case, prosecutors or judges dismissed the charges against the victims — if charges were filed at all. In an incident that drew headlines recently, charges against a South Baltimore man were dropped after a video showed an officer repeatedly punching him — a beating that led the police commissioner to say he was “shocked.”

Such beatings, in which the victims are most often African-Americans, carry a hefty cost. They can poison relationships between police and the community, limiting cooperation in the fight against crime, the mayor and police officials say. They also divert money in the city budget — the $5.7 million in taxpayer funds paid out since January 2011 would cover the price of a state-of-the-art rec center or renovations at more than 30 playgrounds. And that doesn’t count the $5.8 million spent by the city on legal fees to defend these claims brought against police.

Read the rest at the link.

Baltimore in April 2015

Baltimore in April 2015

Gray may have been injured during the beating on the street, but his injuries may have been exacerbated by being taken on a “rough ride” in a police wagon without a seat belt.

From the Baltimore Sun: Freddie Gray not the first to come out of Baltimore police van with serious injuries.

When a handcuffed Freddie Gray was placed in a Baltimore police van on April 12, he was talking and breathing. When the 25-year-old emerged, “he could not talk and he could not breathe,” according to one police official, and he died a week later of a spinal injury.

But Gray is not the first person to come out of a Baltimore police wagon with serious injuries.

Relatives of Dondi Johnson Sr., who was left a paraplegic after a 2005 police van ride, won a $7.4 million verdict against police officers. A year earlier, Jeffrey Alston was awarded $39 million by a jury after he became paralyzed from the neck down as the result of a van ride. Others have also received payouts after filing lawsuits.

For some, such injuries have been inflicted by what is known as a “rough ride” — an “unsanctioned technique” in which police vans are driven to cause “injury or pain” to unbuckled, handcuffed detainees, former city police officer Charles J. Key testified as an expert five years ago in a lawsuit over Johnson’s subsequent death.

As daily protests continue in the streets of Baltimore, authorities are trying to determine how Gray was injured, and their focus is on the 30-minute van ride that followed his arrest. “It’s clear what happened, happened inside the van,” Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said Monday at a news conference.

Here’s a first-person description of one of those “rough rides” from a victim:

Christine Abbott, a 27-year-old assistant librarian at the Johns Hopkins University, is suing city officers in federal court, alleging that she got such a ride in 2012. According to the suit, officers cuffed Abbott’s hands behind her back, threw her into a police van, left her unbuckled and “maniacally drove” her to the Northern District police station, “tossing [her] around the interior of the police van.”

“They were braking really short so that I would slam against the wall, and they were taking really wide, fast turns,” Abbott said in an interview that mirrored allegations in her lawsuit. “I couldn’t brace myself. I was terrified.”

The lawsuit states she suffered unspecified injuries from the arrest and the ride.

“You feel like a piece of cargo,” she added. “You don’t feel human.”

The van’s driver stated in a deposition that Abbott was not buckled into her seat belt, but the officers have denied driving recklessly.

Anyone believe the denials? I sure don’t.

More helpful stories on the Baltimore riots, links only:

USA Today Sports: Orioles COO John Angelos offers eye-opening perspective on Baltimore protests.

Joseph Cannon at Cannonfire: The Reasons Why, Fighting Back, and Insanity and Reality.

Think Progress: Maryland Police Union President Says He’s Never Heard Of ‘Rough Rides.’

The Root: Baltimore Police Union’s Boss Inflames Tension With ‘Lynch Mob’ Remark; ‘Rough Ride’ Alleged

Ta-Nehisi Coates at The Atlantic: Nonviolence as Compliance.

Politico: White House awakes to ‘national crisis‘ and Mayors to Washington: Do Something!

Vox: Protests in Baltimore escalate over death of Freddie Gray after arrest.

Newsday: Philadelphia mayor defends Baltimore leader’s riot response

What else is happening? As always, this is an open thread. Please post your thoughts and links on any topic in the comment thread.

 

 

 


Lazy Saturday Reads: Time to Put Our Problems into Perspective

Volcano Cambuco, Chile

Volcano Cambuco, Chile

Good Morning!!

Today is a good day to put things in perspective and meditate on how fortunate we are here in the United States, despite our serious social and political problems. Elsewhere, dramatic, uncontrollable earth changes are happening with disastrous results.

A disastrous earthquake hit Nepal this morning, with hundreds reported dead so far.

From the NY Daily News: 7.9-magnitude earthquake hits Nepal, kills 792 people, triggers Mt. Everest avalanche.

A 7.9-magnitude earthquake in Nepal killed at least 792 people, destroyed homes and landmarks and triggered an avalanche on Mt. Everest Saturday, officials said….

The devastation first struck Nepal’s densely populated Kathmandu Valley, sweeping through the capital Kathmandu before rippling outward.

“Almost the entire country has been hit,” Krishna Prasad Dhakal, deputy chief of mission at Nepal’s Embassy in New Delhi, told Reuters.

Nepal’s tourism jewel, Mt. Everest, was shaken by the country’s worst earthquake in 80 years, setting off an avalanche that killed eight and injured at least 30, officials said.

Here’s some shocking video from YouTube:

 

This was truly a giant earthquake. [Update: As I write this, USA Today is reporting 876 confirmed dead.]

The earthquake sent aftershocks in all directions, killing 20 in India, six in Tibet, two in Bangladesh, and two Chinese citizens at the Nepal-China border. The rumbling was also felt by some in Lahore, Pakistan and Lhasa.

A 6.6.-magnitude aftershock hit Nepal about an hour after the initial earthquake, and smaller aftershocks continued every few minutes as emergency responders rushed to save citizens and treat them in overcrowded hospitals….

The cosmic quake also injured dozens more and destroyed several centuries-old temples and towers, including the Dharahara Tower, one of the Nepal’s most famous landmarks, which dates back to the 1800s. People were trapped underneath it after it crumbled.

Nepal is going to need a lot of help and soon if lives are to be saved.

USA Today: Nepal quake occurred at major plate boundary.

Saturday’s catastrophic earthquake in Nepal occurred because of two converging tectonic plates: the India plate and the overriding Eurasia plate to the north, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

Tectonic plates are the large, thin, relatively rigid plates that move relative to one another on the outer surface of the Earth.

Plates are always slowly moving, but they get stuck at their edges due to friction. When the stress on the edge overcomes the friction, there is an earthquake that releases energy in waves that travel through the earth’s crust and cause the shaking that we feel.

At the location of Saturday’s earthquake, about 50 miles to the northeast of the Nepalese capital of Kathmandu, the India plate is converging with Eurasia at a rate of about two inches per year towards the north-northeast, driving the uplift of theHimalayan mountain range.

Although a major plate boundary with a history of large-to-great sized earthquakes, large quakes in this area are rare in the documented historical era, the U.S. Geological Survey reports. Over the past century, just four events of magnitude 6.0 or larger have occurred within about 150 miles of Saturday’s earthquake.

One, a magnitude 6.9 earthquake in August 1988 about 150 miles to the southeast of Saturay’s quake, caused nearly 1,500 fatalities, USGS said.

The largest event, a magnitude 8.0 known as the 1934 Nepal-Bihar earthquake, occurred in a similar location to the 1988 quake. It severely damaged Kathmandu, and is thought to have caused around 10,600 deaths.

 

This photo from CNN shows emergency rescue workers in Kathmandu rushing an injured person to a hospital.

150425130218-nepal-earthquake-stretcher-super-169

 

The Guardian is posting live updates on the situation in Nepal.

 

I may be living in dignified poverty in a country filled with out-of-control religious fanatics and right wing haters, but at least I’m alive and well, with a roof over my head, heat, running water, electricity, and food to eat.

On Wednesday, Chile experienced a massive volcanic eruption that also set off earthquakes.

Gizmodo reported it live, with photos and gifs from news sites and Twitter.

Calbuco, a stratovolcano in southern Chile, began erupting yesterday [Wednesday] at 7pm local time. First spewing massive ash clouds then, at 10pm, erupting explosively as its fragile structure collapsed inwards….The Calbuco volcano in southern Chile is erupting for the first time in 42 years…

See more photos at Cruel Buzz:

15 Breathtaking pics of volcano eruption in Chile that forced 4000 to evacuate.

I’m including some of these amazing photos in this post.

From ABC yesterday: Chile Volcano Eruption: Inside a Ghost Town as Volcanic Ash Rains Down.

A volcano that was dormant for 42 years in Chile has erupted twice this week in a magnificent display. But the stunning twin blasts captured on photo and video has forced about 4,000 residents in towns nearby to evacuate as ash blanketed their neighborhoods.

The city of Ensenada, at the foot of the Calbuco volcano, was one of the most thickly covered in ash – which caused roofs to collapse and raised concerns about possible water contamination, respiratory illnesses and more grounded flights.

Chile’s national geology and mining service also warned people to prepare for a possible third and “even more aggressive eruption.”

volcano-eruption-calbuco-chile-1__8801

The LA Times: Calbuco volcano: Two earthquakes caused by fracturing rock, officials say.

A missing hiker was found alive late Thursday as ash from Chile’s Calbuco volcano continued to fill the air, piling on roadways and closing borders in the region.

The volcano first erupted Wednesday, marking the first such activity in more than 42 years, billowing a huge ash cloud over the sparsely populated, mountainous area in southern Chile.

A second, more powerful eruption hit around 1 a.m. Thursday, creating swarms of lightning storms. Stunning photos captured the phenomenon, known as “dirty thunderstorms,” which illuminated the night sky.

The eruption rained down as much as 15 to 20 inches of ash in the nearby town of Ensenada, officials said, closing schools and canceling flights. Several surrounding towns, including Alerce, Colonia Rio Sur and Correntos, were also evacuated.

About 7 p.m. local time, two earthquakes associated with fracturing of rock occurred. The largest happened less than 3 miles east of the main crater, with a magnitude of 3, officials said in a 9 p.m. update. An additional “minor” eruption is possible, officials said.

volcano-eruption-calbuco-chile-4__880

According to the article, no deaths have been reported so far, and officials say they don’t have food or water shortages; but this eruption was huge.

Volcanic ash was falling in the Argentine resort city of Bariloche, about 68 miles east of Calbuco, the Associated Press reported. Officials there were analyzing the ash to see if it posed a threat to drinking water.

Officials closed several border crossings between Argentina and Chile, after “poor environmental conditions” made the roads impassable.

From Reuters early this morning: Chile volcano prompts new evacuations, flights to Argentina canceled.

Chilean volcano Calbuco, which erupted without warning on Wednesday, is still puffing out ash and smoke on Friday, prompting new evacuations and leading airlines to cancel flights to Argentine capital Buenos Aires, some 1,400 kilometers east.

Calbuco, considered one of the most dangerous along Chile’s chain of around 2,000 volcanoes, erupted twice in 24 hours on Wednesday and Thursday, sending up a spectacular 17 kilometer-high (11 miles) cloud and coating nearby towns in a thick layer of gray ash.

Authorities have set up a 20 kilometer (12 mile) cordon around Calbuco, which is located in the scenic Los Lagos region, around 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) south of capital Santiago.

An increase in volcanic activity caused potentially deadly lahars, a mix of water and rock fragments that flow down a volcano’s slopes and river valleys, prompting authorities to evacuate an additional 2,000 people.

“This is a complex (volcanic) process that could last for weeks,” said Rodrigo Alvarez, head of Chile’s mining and geological service.

volcano-eruption-calbuco-chile-15__880

Of course we do face catastrophic risks here too. Remember that all that volcanic activity under Yellowstone National Park?

The Christian Science Monitor reports: Scientists find huge magma reservoir in Yellowstone ‘supervolcano’ (+video).

Scientists and tourists have always known that Yellowstone National Park featured lively geologic wonders – regular small earthquakes and two-thirds of the world’s geysers, including Old Faithful – all constituting what’s known as a “supervolcano.”

Now, seismologists at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City have made a new discovery about Yellowstone’s subsurface plumbing, specifically a reservoir of hot, partly molten rock more than four times larger than the shallower magma chamber that scientists already knew about. To give that some perspective, the newly discovered reservoir would fill the Grand Canyon 11 times, compared with 2.5 times for the shallower chamber.

“For the first time, we have imaged the continuous volcanic plumbing system under Yellowstone,” says Hsin-Hua Huang, a postdoctoral researcher in geology and geophysics at the university and the study’s lead author, in a statement. “That includes the upper crustal magma chamber we have seen previously plus a lower crustal magma reservoir that has never been imaged before and that connects the upper chamber to the Yellowstone hotspot plume below.”

The researchers, whose findings were published in the journal Science this week, emphasize that Yellowstone’s plumbing system is no larger – nor closer to erupting – than before. Now, however, they have used advanced techniques to make a complete image of the system that carries hot and partly molten rock upward from the top of the Yellowstone hot-spot plume – about 40 miles beneath the surface – to the magma reservoir and the magma chamber above it.

But the deeper chamber does mean that the shallow chamber can be replenished again and again.

If that thing blows, we can all kiss our asses goodbye. But we can’t just cower in our houses in fear, can we? We have to face today’s current events, and they can be pretty awful.

Of course, as I wrote at the outset, we do have some serious political and social problems in the good old USA.

I for one am very glad I don’t live in Missouri. Remember the black woman who was elected mayor of the small town of Kinloch? The racism seemingly runs deep in that place, which isn’t far from Ferguson. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports:

Alleging voter fraud, Kinloch refuses to swear in new mayor and alderman.

KINLOCH • Betty McCray, Kinloch’s newly elected Mayor, arrived at City Hall on Thursday morning with an entourage and the intention to fire multiple city employees.

But before she could enter the building, McCray was told she was the one who was out of job.

In the parking lot, McCray was met by a half-dozen police officers and City Attorney James Robinson, who held a manila envelope under his arm containing articles of impeachment.

“You can’t come in as mayor,” Robinson said. “You have been suspended.”

McCray refused to take the envelope, saying, “You may be the attorney now, but I promise you, you won’t be later.”

Robinson also told Alderman Eric Petty, an ally of McCray’s, that the board had drafted articles of impeachment against him. Petty, too, refused to accept them.

“We won,” he said. “It’s time for them to move on.”

Can you believe that? I guess it’s time for the Justice Department to investigate another Missouri police force.

Kinloch, the first city in Missouri to be incorporated by African-Americans, is situated between Ferguson and Lambert-St. Louis International Airport. It once thrived with more than 10,000 residents. Then in the 1980s, the airport began buying homes for a noise-abatement program, purchasing roughly 1,360 properties. The city’s population plummeted, and poverty and blight took hold.

Today, Kinloch, which has fewer than 300 residents, is marked by pilfered coffers, shady land deals and increasingly bitter fights over the last remnants of political power.

During the past five years, the city has seen the imprisonment of a former mayor on federal fraud and theft charges, the hiring of a convicted felon as city manager, the selling of a previous city hall building to an alleged drug dealer and the unseating of at least two aldermen.

WTF do they need so many police officers for 300 residents?!

We’ll have to keep an eye on that story.

A few more reads for you, links only:

Washington Post: So far, NBC News finds Brian Williams embellished at least 11 times.

Paul Krugman on Clinton Rules.

Charles Pierce on his long-time nemesis, the goggle-eyed homonculus: Watching Scotty Blow, con’td, Road Trip. In which Scott Walker learns the difference between Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Vice: Thousands Gather in Istanbul to Demand Turkey Recognize Armenian Mass Killings as Genocide.

NewJersey.com: Stephen A. Smith rips Patriots’ Tom Brady: You had time for George Bush, but not Barack Obama? For once, I have to agree with this perennial Patriots-hater.

Boston Globe: Tom Brady’s White House Absence: The 10 Most Interesting Theories.

Right now I’m wondering if I can even root for Brady next season–especially after I heard he was spotted at an Apple store in NYC last night.

Raw Story: Tennessee Gov. Haslam signs bill allowing handguns in parks.

Talking Points Memo: 2009 Memo Describes Concerns About Oklahoma Deputy’s Training.

ABC News: Each Death in Baltimore Makes Mistrust Harder to Overcome.

New York Times First Draft: Christie’s Wife Leaves Wall Street Job. So the scandal-plagued NJ governor must be planning to run for the GOP nomination.

USA Today: How the Comcast, Time-Warner Deal Unraveled. YAY!!!! One for the good guys.

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

 

 


Friday Reads

Good Morning!

b45c61b8d9b03b61212dc3786b170d81I really have never quite figured out why a lot of people can’t figure out the basic rule of being nice to other people. You learn the lesson of mean almost immediately in this country.  My dad would always come home from his business, cook dinner to relax, and watch the news.  He was particularly fond of Huntley and Brinkley. One of my earliest images of the evening news is of southern police turning hoses on black children and adults.  I can’t imagine that image ever leaving me.  You would think that this far after the civil rights movement, the women’s movement, Stonewall, and all the other movements we’ve had to just bring basic respect to each other’s lives that this country would be less hostile to others.  But no, we continue to see out and out bigotry and hatred of others daily.  This occurs on many levels.

So, it was a bit of a surprise to me to find Adam Sandler making a movie.  I thought we’d moved beyond his unfunny brand of humor.  He seems to have made a decent living making fun of others.  His new script included every trope and stereotype about Native Americans possible.  The Native American actors on the set walked off.  Good for them.

About a dozen Native American actors have walked off the set of an Adam Sandlerspoof western in protest at its depiction of Apache culture, including characters with names like Beaver’s Breath and No Bra.

The group quit on Wednesday after taking offence at jokes in the The Ridiculous Six, reportedly a satire of The Magnificient Seven which is to be Sandler’s first film for Netflix.

In addition to certain characters’ names, they complained about a female character squatting and urinating while smoking a peace pipe and the inappropriate positioning of feathers on a teepee, according to the Indian Country Today Media Network.

The film stars Sandler, Nick Nolte, Steve Buscemi, Dan Aykroyd, Jon Lovitz and Vanilla Ice. Sandler co-wrote it with his veteran collaborator, Tim Herlihy.

It is to be released via Netflix, the first of a four-movie deal with the streaming service, which has scored high repeat viewing figures with Sandler hits such as The Wedding Singer.

The mostly Navajo Native American actors were told The Ridiculous Six, which is being filmed in New Mexico, would be humorous but not racist, actor Loren Anthony told the Indian Country Today Media Network.

“So I agreed to it, but on Monday things started getting weird on the set. One thing that really offended a lot of people was that there was a female character called Beaver’s Breath. One character says: ‘Hey, Beaver’s Breath.’ And the Native woman says: ‘How did you know my name?’”

When the actors complained, the director said the disrespect was not intentional and the film is a comedy, said Anthony.

He also complained about alleged inaccuracies. “We were supposed to be Apache, but it was really stereotypical and we did not look Apache at all. We looked more like Comanche.”

Another Navajo actor, Allison Young, said producers rebuffed her protests. “They just told us: ‘If you guys are so sensitive, you should leave.’”

Young said she cried. “This is supposed to be a comedy that makes you laugh. A film like this should not make someone feel this way. Nothing has changed. We are still just Hollywood Indians.”

It also seems these days that many people are confusing giving all people access to benefits henceforth reserved for a privileged few as something to go all martyr about. The blacklash to this has moved beyondold-tv-set appalling to me.  At least in this case the protesters are identified with a white supremacy group and are being honest about the outrage of having to share their special little snowflake status with others.  Of course, Fox and Friends have taken up the cause of the “War on White People”.

The white freakout over college students grappling with “the problem of whiteness” has just found a new target.

The National Youth Front’s leader, Angelo John Gage, told TPM in a phone interview Thursday that he believes the bulletin board amounted to discrimination. He repeatedly took issue with the portrayal of white people and Christians as having “privilege.”

“State and federal law says you must keep the school discrimination-free. They’re not doing that,” Gage said. “The Civil Rights Act says you can’t have discrimination based on race, sex, gender — all that stuff. Here comes a board that discriminates against people for their race, sex, gender, religion. It’s the complete opposite.”

He defined privilege instead as something “handed to you.”

“‘Oh you’re black, here you go, here’s a scholarship.’ That’s a privilege,” Gage explained. “Or here’s a racial quota. ‘You’re not qualified but you’re black, so here’s the job’ — otherwise it’s racism.”

Gage said he first learned of the bulletin board when he came across an article on Campus Reform, a student news website backed by the Leadership Institute, which organizes conservative groups on campus. Fox News ran with Campus Reform’s story in a “Fox & Friends” segment, which Gage said he watched.

“Fox and Friends” host Elizabeth Hasselbeck spoke with an Appalachian State student earlier this month who said she was cyberbullied after she posted a photo of the bulletin board on Facebook. The photo was picked up by Campus Reform. The student, Laurel Litter, who is white, told Hasselbeck that the felt the bulletin board intimidated her and made her feel shameful about her heritage:

White people!  There are things in our heritage of which we should feel very ashamed!  Slavery?  Lynchings? Jim Crow Laws? I’m sure you can add to the list. I’ve gotten to the point where my rule of not dealing downloadwith mean people implies I mostly avoid white christians unless I know they’re not “that kind” of christian.  You know, the freaking mean, judgmental, hating on others kids demonstrated so illustriously by many of our elected officials. Here’s some more examples of our uncivilized and inhumane behavior. A very dear friend of mine was brutalized at university for being gay 40 years ago.  We’re not beyond that either.

CBS46 obtained exclusive video of what Carver School of Technology students described as a five-round fight with punches being thrown by about 20 students at one point, all because classmates hurled racial and homophobic slurs at two students.

Tim Jefferson, 16, said it all started as he and a friend left their last class to go home.

During the fight, Jefferson said one student even pulled out a screwdriver and jammed it in his face, right next to his eye. Jefferson said he has several injuries.

“My face, my eye, my lip, on my back, my spine right in the middle, the back of my neck and I got hit in the back of my head,” Jefferson said.

Jefferson’s mom, Sabrina Giles, said this is about the eighth time this year that her son and his friend were attacked because of their sexuality so she’s transferring him to another school.

Jefferson hoped to teach the bullies a lesson of their own.

“I’m going to press charges. I want some justice. If God willing, I’m going to get justice and I want the boys who did this to go to jail,” Jefferson said.

Atlanta police charged four students in the fight. Three juveniles will face state charges of affray. The other student, Jefferson’s friend, who said he was bullied, will face a charge of disorderly conduct.

The continued invention of christian persecution in this country reached a fervored pitch yesterday when my governor announced he’d fight big sodomy and big business for his right to humiliate the GLBT community with laws that allow bigots to exclude them and any one else they don’t like from a seat at the lunch counter if they scream “You’re persecuting me because of my religion”!  Oh, SCOTUS and the Hobby Lobby Decision!  Look wtf you’ve done!

Jindal’s op-ed is actually a follow-up of his previous support for Johnson’s bill. Asked for the governor’s stance on the bill by the New Orleans Times-Picayune, a Jindal spokesman said the governor definitely supports it.

“This is a common sense bill that provides necessary protections for individuals to prevent adverse treatment from the state based on religious beliefs regarding marriage,” the spokesman told the newspaper.

Pence, at first, seemed adamant in not giving in to any criticism or pressure, be it byDemocrats or national or local businesses, in changing the the religious freedom law he signed. Eventually though the pressure was too much and Pence called on lawmakers to clarify the law. Hutchinson seemed to see the writing on the wall and also sent the religious freedom bill back to his state legislature. Jindal’s op-ed is a move that the other governors didn’t take and a clear line in the sand that he wants things to go differently in his state.

images (4)This nonsense and grandstanding on the Op Ed page of the NYT came on the same day that national support for marriage equality has reached a big plurality. Fully sixty one percent of Americans believe it should be legal in every state in our country.

A week before a closely watched U.S. Supreme Court hearing on the issue, public support for gay marriage reached a new high in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, with 61 percent of Americans – more than six in 10 for the first time – saying gays and lesbians should be allowed to marry legally.

Identical or similar majorities favor gay marriage on two key issues before the court: Sixty-one percent oppose allowing individual states to prohibit same-sex marriages. And 62 percent support requiring states to recognize gay marriages performed legally in other states.

This puts the majority of the Republican party at odds with the majority of the country.  It also indicates that little Bobby Jindal will do anything to the state of Louisiana, its economy, its people, and its environment to attract a few whackado Iowa Republican caucus goers.   Poor Bobby!  Point to the place on the doll where the mean married gay people hurt you!  What?  You can’t point to your imagination?  How about pointing to your blatant political strategy based on hating on people.

When it comes to defending big business over the rights of the average citizen, Bobby Jindal is your guy. After the BP oil spill – which began five years ago this week, dumping hundreds of millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf – Bobby Jindal was frontandcenter, defending BP.

But now that he’s running for President – unannounced as of now – Jindal is working to shape his image as the defender of religious liberty and freedom, for Christians.

Literally, for Christians.

The New York Times this morning published what appears to be an un-fact checked op-ed by the Louisiana Governor, in which he specifically states his plan to fight “discrimination against Christian individuals and businesses.”

Not, say, “people of faith,” or, “those with deeply held religious beliefs,” but “Christian individuals and businesses.”

Hopefully Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the ACLU, the American Humanist Association, and other like-minded organizations are at their keyboards reminding the 43-year old Roman Catholic Republican about the First Amendment.

So why exactly is Jindal preparing to defend these Christians (and not Muslims, Jews, or people of unaffiliated faith – or of no faith at all)?

“I’m Holding Firm Against Gay Marriage” is the title of his Times op-ed.

“I plan in this legislative session to fight for passage of the Marriage and Conscience Act,” Jindal writes. When he made the same statement in front of the Louisiana legislature last week, it received not a single moment of applause. Even the bill’s author wasn’t clapping.

That bill is so anti-gay, so sweeping, it states that no one and no business or organization in Louisiana has to recognize the legal marriage of a same-sex couple.

Your employer doesn’t have to extend medical coverage to your spouse. The DMV could state your legal name, had you changed it after marrying a person of the same gender, is invalid (as happened in Florida), and hospitals might be able to deny visitation and medical decision rights from you or your husband or wife.

Louisiana already has a Religious Freedom Restoration Act, but Gov. Jindal is planning a run for president, and he needs to distinguish himself from the rest of the pack.

maxresdefaultSo, when is removing rights from people so other’s won’t feel put out and can do whatever they want to others based on their bigotry any where near to religious discrimination?  All you have to do is read the justification for slavery, Jim Crow Laws, and  Laws that once prevented people of different colors from marrying and you’ll read the same old tired bigoted arguments.    Notice that I haven’t even got to any conversation on immigration today and I’ve already filled the page up with examples of mean, bigoted hate-filled assholes.

Love one another.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?