Saturday Morning Reads

Good Morning!!

Wonk the Vote is taking care of some personal business today, so I’m filling in for her. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of exciting political news at the moment, so I’ve got a bit of a potpourri of links for you.

The most bizarre story out there right now is that Jason Russell, one of the founders of “Invisible Children,” an organization that recently released a video on Joseph Kony that went viral on the internet, has been hospitalized after an apparent breakdown.

Jason Russell, 33, was allegedly found masturbating in public, vandalizing cars and possibly under the influence of something, according to the SDPD. He was detained at the intersection of Ingraham Street and Riviera Road.

An SDPD spokesperson said the man detained was acting very strange, some may say bizarre….

Police said they received several calls Thursday at 11:30 a.m. of a man in various stages of undress, running through traffic and screaming.

Police recognized that Russell needed medical treatment, and he wasn’t put under arrest. ABC News has more detail on the incident. It sounds pretty bad.

Russell was allegedly walking around an intersection wearing “speedo-like underwear.” He then removed the underwear and made sexual gestures, sources told TMZ, which posted video of a publicly naked man purported to be Russell.

Several bystanders held Russell down until police arrived, ABC’s San Diego affiliate reported.

San Diego police spokesperson Lt. Andra Brown told NBC San Diego that Russell was “screaming, yelling, acting irrationally.” He was running into the roadway and interfering with traffic, although there were “no reports of actual collisions.” Bystanders reported he was in “various stage of undress,” although by the time police arrived, he had his “underwear back on.”

Invisible children is saying that Russell was hospitalized for exhaustion and malnutrition.

To be honest, I haven’t watched the video, because my sister saw it and told me it was very emotionally manipulative. She told me that in the film, Russell talks frankly to his son about Kony’s violent crimes in a way that sounded like child abuse to me. Plus, like many groups who are active in African countries, Invisible Children seems to be run by right wing Xtians. So I avoided seeing the film don’t know much about it. I’d be interested in the opinions of anyone who has seen the film.

I did find some background in The Guardian UK:

Invisible Children has shot to fame in recent weeks after one of the videos that it produces in order to publicise the atrocities of Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army went viral. Viewed more than 76m times, the video gave a high profile to the group’s cause, but also put the tiny charity at the centre of global scrutiny.

Critics have condemned the group for a perceived lack of transparency in its financial records and for over-simplifying a complex issue. They accused the group of being fame-seeking and of having an overtly western focus on what is a regional African problem. Some also pointed out the group had taken large donations from rightwing Christian fundamentalists groups in the US, who have also funded anti gay-rights causes.

However, the group and its many defenders mounted a strong defence, detailing its financial history and saying that their sole aim was to highlight a dreadful and ongoing human rights cause that had garnered little attention for decades. They were also hailed for using social media to engage young people in social activism.

Yesterday a jury in New Jersey Dharun Ravi guilty a hate crime for spying on roommate at Rutgers, Tyler Clementi and posting videos on the internet of Clementi and an older male in sexual encounters. Three days later, Clementi committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge.

A former Rutgers University student was convicted on Friday on all 15 charges he had faced for using a webcam to spy on his roommate having sex with another man, a verdict poised to broaden the definition of hate crimes in an era when laws have not kept up with evolving technology.

“It’s a watershed moment, because it says youth is not immunity,” said Marcellus A. McRae, a former federal prosecutor now in private practice.

The student, Dharun Ravi, had sent out Twitter and text messages encouraging others to watch…. The case set off a debate about whether hate-crime statutes are the best way to deal with bullying. While Mr. Ravi was not charged with Mr. Clementi’s death, some legal experts argued that he was being punished for it, and that this would result only in ruining another young life. They, along with Mr. Ravi’s lawyers, had argued that the case was criminalizing simple boorish behavior.

I for one am very pleased with the verdict. Ravi’s behavior went way beyond bullying, IMO. I’m sick of seeing young people driven to suicide by behaviors that are characterized as “bullying” because they’re been carried out by young people in school. If adults acted in the same ways, their behaviors would be seen as harassment, stalking, and even outright violence.

Last night George Clooney was arrested in DC along with several legislators for protesting outside the Sudanese embassy.

A group of U.S. lawmakers and film star George Clooney were arrested at Sudan’s embassy in Washington on Friday in a protest at which activists accused Khartoum of blocking humanitarian aid from reaching a volatile border region where hundreds of thousands of people may be short of food.

Protest organizers said those arrested included U.S. Representatives Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, Al Green of Texas, Jim Moran of Virginia and John Olver of Massachusetts – all Democrats. Organizers said Ben Jealous, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and Martin Luther King III, the son of the slain U.S. civil rights hero, also were arrested.

Clooney, his father Nick and the other anti-Sudan activists ignored three police warnings to leave the embassy grounds and were led away in plastic handcuffs to a waiting van by uniformed members of the Secret Service, a Reuters journalist covering the demonstration said.

I was glad to see that some members of the Massachusetts delegation were involved.

The suspect in the Afghan mass murders has been identified.

The military on Friday identified the soldier accused of killing 16 Afghan villagers earlier this week as Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, a 38-year-old father of two who had been injured twice in combat over the course of four deployments and had, his lawyer said, an exemplary military record.

Bales’ name was kept secret for several days because of

concerns about his and his family’s security.

An official said on Friday that Sergeant Bales was being transferred from Kuwait to Fort Leavenworth, Kan., home of the Army’s maximum security prison. His wife and children were moved from their home in Lake Tapps, Wash., east of Tacoma, onto Joint Base Lewis-McChord, his home base, earlier this week….

Little more than the outlines of Sergeant Bales’s life are publicly known. His family lived in Lake Tapps, a community about 20 miles northeast of his Army post. NBC reported that he was from Ohio, and he may have lived there until he joined the Army at 27.

Bales enlisted right after 9/11 and has had four combat deployments. It’s hard to understand how that could be permitted, especially after he suffered a traumatic brain injury. The story notes that the day before the shootings, Bales had seen a fellow soldier lose his leg.

CNN reports that Bales family said he did not want to go to Afghanistan after he had already served three combat deployments, lost part of his foot, and suffered the TBI.

“He was told that he was not going to be redeployed,” [Bales’ attorney John Henry] Browne said. “The family was counting on him not being redeployed. I think it would be fair to say he and the family were not happy that he was going back.”

Browne painted a picture of a decorated, career soldier who joined the military after the 2001 terrorist attacks and had spent his Army life at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Washington. Browne called him a devoted husband and father to his two young children who never made any derogatory remarks about Muslims or Afghans.

I’ve got a few political links for you. Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels is making news again. Naturally it relates to the war on women. He says the Republican presidential candidates “mishandled the recent debate over women’s health and contraception.”

In an interview with Reuters, he voiced misgivings about how the Republican presidential candidates have framed issues, especially the recent debate over women’s health and contraception.

The Obama administration’s recent decision to require religious institutions such as Catholic-run hospitals to offer insurance plans that cover birth control for women, which his administration later modified under pressure from critics, was “a radical expansion of federal power,” Daniels said….

“Where I wish my teammates had done better and where they mishandled it is … I thought they should have played it as a huge intrusion on freedom,” Daniels said.

Instead, he said they got dragged into a debate about women’s right to contraception, an issue which was settled 40 years ago.

Daniels said they should have framed the argument as one about government intrusion on personal liberty. He said the Obama rule was like saying that because Houston yoga is healthy, the government should require it.

Excuse me? What about the “intrusion” on women’s “freedom?” And what a stupid analogy. The government isn’t requiring anyone to use birth control. Why won’t Mitch just ride away on his Harley Sportster and leave us alone?

Of course not a day goes by without Mitt Romney saying something idiotic. Yesterday, right after his plane landed in Puerto Rico, Romney attacked Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor.

The justice, nominated by President Barack Obama in 2009, is beloved by local Democrats and Republicans as the high court’s first member of Puerto Rican descent.

“In looking at Justice Sotomayor, my view was her philosophy is quite different than my own and that’s the reason why I would not support her as a justice for the Supreme Court,” Romney told reporters Friday afternoon, just minutes after his plane touched down in San Juan. “I would be happy to have a justice of Puerto Rican descent or a Puerto Rican individual on the Supreme Court, but they would have to share my philosophy, that comes first.”

The issue puts Romney at odds with a majority of local voters and his most prominent Puerto Rican supporter, Gov. Luis Fortuno, standing at Romney’s side as the former governor or Massachusetts made his remarks. It also underscores the challenges facing Republican candidates as they bring popular conservative rhetoric to an area packed with Hispanic voters ahead of Sunday’s GOP president primary.

And, as if that wasn’t enough of an insult, Romney then followed the poor example of his opponent Rick Santorum and lectured the locals about making English their official language.

Romney and his rival Rick Santorum have supported the conservative push to formalize English as the official language across the country. On Puerto Rico, an American territory that will vote on its political status, including statehood, on Nov. 6, most residents speak Spanish as their primary language.

Santorum made headlines earlier in the week after saying that Puerto Rico would have to adopt English as its main language to attain statehood, a dominant political issue here.

Can you believe the nerve of these guys? I’ll end on a humorous note–another story mocking Mitt Romney. You know how I love to mock my former governor. It seems that in 2006, Romney

declared September “Responsible Dog Ownership Month” in the state.

Eleven dogs and 35 humans gathered at the State House for an event celebrating the governor’s proclamation on Sept. 21 of that year, according to a contemporaneous newsletter from the Massachusetts Federation of Dog Clubs and Responsible Dog Owners.

“We have a pervasive problem because of people who don’t act as responsible dog owners,” Jennifer Callahan, then a Democratic member of the state legislature, said at the time, citing the hundreds of thousands of dogs that wind up in shelters every year.

ROFLOL! The Seamus on top of the car story didn’t appear in The Boston Globe until 2007.

That’s it for me. What are you reading and blogging about today?

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20 Comments on “Saturday Morning Reads”

  1. Pat Johnson says:

    It’s St. Patrick’ Day and another reason for Mittens to proclaim his leprechaun roots!

    Since most states he has campaigned in have had “connections” to some things in his life, look for him to do the same with us Irish.

    Beginning with “I love green beer!” leave it to Mitt to squeeze out a link to the Irish as he trolls for those votes.

    He is such a dolt.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I suppose I should have written something about St. Patrick’s Day, but for some reason it’s my least favorite holiday.

      • With you, bb, on St Patrick’s Day. I see his “driving the snakes” out of Ireland as driving out Goddess worship. Really, really don’t like this holyday.

  2. The Rock says:

    Nice post BB! For a slow news day, you hit all the major stories. Such a sad tale about the Afghan murders. Sgt Bales just finally snapped. That is not an excuse to stop 16 people from breathing whose only crime was waking up, but that is what happens in war. I’m pretty sure the same thing happened a few times in Vietnam. NOT EXCUSING IT, just trying to understand. So sad.

    Got a couple links myself from last night.
    Speaking of PR, Rick is having a good ol time during his vacation… uh, I mean campaign…

    Stop the presses!! Politico published an article full of truths about Bumbles!!!
    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0312/74119.html
    Asshats.

    In news from home, I know this may sound gruesome, but the members of Boko Haram need to see some virgins. They need to die. The only thing that will stop them from killing is their own death. All these talks are emboldening the more violent ones to do worse things. I hope that the govt is setting a trap and just executes them all.
    http://news.yahoo.com/nigeria-islamist-group-boko-haram-indirect-talks-093729182.html

    Finally, on a lighter note, I really like seeing people that are supposed to be celebs or whatever, doing regular stuff. And doing it well. Not a big follower of the ‘royals,’ but this was a nice story about the future queen. And as hard as she tried to minimize her abilities, that girl is good!!
    http://www.thepostgame.com/blog/london-calling-2012/201203/kate-middleton-britain-olympic-field-hockey

    Have a great day all!!

    Hillary 2012

  3. janicen says:

    Mitch Daniels is an ass. Like so many other misogynists, he doesn’t even recognize how he’s trivializing women’s healthcare by comparing it to yoga. We may have “…come a long way, baby…” but we have an even longer way to go.

  4. foxyladi14 says:

    Happy Saint Patrick’s Day Skydancers!!!!!!!! 🙂

  5. janicen says:

    Well, it had to happen. The Republicans already have proposed a plan to privatize Medicare…

    All the details aren’t out, but Paul says his plan would cut funding of Medicare by $1 trillion over 10 years and reduce Medicare’s liabilities by $16 trillion. It would do that by enrolling Medicare recipients in the health plan now used by federal workers. The government would pay 75 percent of the insurance premium on average but 30 percent or less for those who earned more than $100,000 a year. The eligibility age would gradually be raised to 70 from 65. If seniors can’t afford their share of the premium, they can apply for Medicaid, the health program for the poor.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/a-republican-mediscare/2012/03/16/gIQAfoWYGS_story.html

  6. joanelle says:

    Sgt Bails was on his fourth tour – no wonder he snapped – our leadership push our military too far.

    • dakinikat says:

      There should be a law that when these jokers declare war their children are drafted immediately into the armed services. That would make them think twice before they casually declare all these wars and send other people’s kids to hell realms in perpetuity.

      • northwestrain says:

        Bush did a lot of harm to the military — plus he stole the state’s national guard. We know what happened in New Orleans — the special high water vehicles of the LA NG were in Iraq for Katrina.

        The repeated deployment of personnel with injuries continued under 0bama — THIS rampage by a damaged soldier came under 0bama’s watch — HE is ultimately responsible as the Commander in Chief. Also Navy personnel have been used and abused by team 0bama. Then 0bama sends mrs. 0 out to do high profile PR — as if she has any empathy for military families (BS to that). A college educated/law degree — first lady and she’s used like a finishing school wife to a CEO.

        —————

        Women are headed back into the dark ages when abortions could be bought easily. The rich could fly off to Europe or go to Mexico and the poor made with back street abortions or self induced abortions. The information is out there and when women are desperate — they will do whatever it takes. Women will just have to learn to be quiet — do what needs to be done.

        Ironic that the “ain’t a feminist” generation of the 80s — who figured that they didn’t need to be a feminist or acknowledge the work of the earlier generations for the progress of women of their generation and now responsible for the pain and misery that their daughters will endure at the hands of the patriarchy.

        The war on women will never end.

    • foxyladi14 says:

      Amen.

  7. peggysue22 says:

    I was listening to the radio in the car earlier and they did a short report [this was NPR] on Sgt Balis. They’d spoken to a couple of neighbors who were shocked that the man would have been involved in anything like this. He was described as a level-headed, easy-going type, which flies in the face of the original report that his wife had sought an order of protection because of erratic behavior. Talk about conflicting stories!

    What I do know is a TBI should have knocked him out for consideration of a 4th tour. I’ve heard his injury described as a ‘concussion.’ People tend to minimize that but shouldn’t. Even a concussion in some patients can produce sleep disorders, memory loss and judgment problems. Traumatic brain injury is brain damage. The fact that the military would send anyone back into an active theater after that sort of injury is absolutely chilling. I swear, I do not know what this government is doing anymore. Makes no sense!

    Btw, BB. I did see the Kony vid. In fact, I put it up in one of my comments last week. I saw it over at Taylor Marsh. It’s a very effective vid, a real piece of emotional salesmanship. And Russell comes across as a dedicated social reformer. TM referred to it as boilerplate stuff for any activist movement. To say I was stunned by the news item on Russell’s arrest would be an understatement. If anything, it’s a stark reminder of the power of the visual and how we need to investigate before we get involved in causes.

    Still, Russell’s public behavior is so out of whack with that vid, I’m genuinely amazed and confused by the whole affair. The surprises just keep coming!

    • I have heard both on TV & NPR that Sgt Bails had lost a portion of one foot in a previous deployment & that he’d been told he wouldn’t be deployed again. He had started recruitment training & then was advised he would be shipping out to Afghanistan. Also, the day before the incident he’d watched as a soldier/friend had his leg blown off. One of the reports said his friend had died. And “mere” concussions are serious which is why amateur & professional football is taking them much more seriously. Former pro football players started a campaign to address the permanent damage that’s been done to them because of multiple concussions.

      I had posted a comment last week about Russell’s born again creds. He had spoken at a major Christian university conference. I posted it on a post after your original post peggysue. With that connection & his seeming commitment to Invisible Children, his behavior seems really out of character. Maybe all of the attention, much of it negative, made him snap.

  8. peggysue22 says:

    Joe Cannon has a really interesting post up on the Bales case. Oddly enough, it could apply to Russell as well–the use of Larium, an anti-malaria drug. The soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan regularly took the drug. All the time Russell spent in Africa means he could have taken it as well. It apparently has bizarre side effects in some people, including psychotic breaks, hallucinations, etc. and takes a number of weeks to clear the system.

    Strange.