Tuesday Reads: Crime and Movies, Obama’s Second Term, How the Wisconsin Uprising Got Hijacked, and Other News

Good Morning!!

I’ve got a selection of interesting reads for you today.

Late last night, the top story on Google news was this:

Coroner rules dingo to blame for Australian baby’s death.

A coroner ruled Tuesday that a dingo, a wild dog native to Australia, caused the death of a baby more than 30 years ago.

Azaria Chamberlain was just two months old when she disappeared from a tent during a family holiday to Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, sparking one of the country’s most sensational and enduring murder mysteries.

“The cause of her death was as the result of being attacked and taken by a dingo,” Elizabeth Morris, coroner for Northern Territory, announced to Darwin Magistrates court early Tuesday. “Dingos can and do cause harm to humans.”

The girl’s mother, Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton, long maintained that a dingo took her baby, even as she was sentenced to life in jail for daughter’s murder, a conviction that was later quashed.

Meryl Streep played Lindy in a movie about the case, A Cry in the Dark.

The movie was satirized in a Seinfeld episode.

Seriously, though, I’m glad that Lindy has finally received justice.

Another long-ago crime story has been in the news: the mysterious escape from Alcatraz by three convicts 50 years ago yesterday, June 11, 1962.

Fifty years ago, on the night of June 11, 1962, the three convicts were locked down as usual. Guards walking the tier outside their cells saw them at 9:30 and checked on them periodically all night, looking in at the sleeping faces, hearing nothing strange. But by morning, the inmates had vanished, Houdini-like.

Guards found pillows under the bedclothes and lifelike papier-mâché heads with real hair and closed, painted eyes. Federal agents, state and local police officers, Coast Guard boats and military helicopters joined the largest manhunt since the Lindbergh baby kidnapping in 1932, scouring the prison complex on Alcatraz Island, the expanse of San Francisco Bay and the surrounding landscape of Northern California.

A crude raft made of rubber raincoats was found on a nearby island. But the fugitives were never seen again. Federal officials said they almost certainly drowned in the maelstrom of riptides, undertows and turbulent, frigid waters of the 10-mile-wide bay, their bodies probably swept out to sea under the Golden Gate Bridge.

But for aficionados of unsolved mysteries, the fantasy that Frank Lee Morris and the brothers Clarence and John Anglin had successfully escaped from the nation’s most forbidding maximum security prison and are still alive, hiding somewhere, has been a tantalizing if remote possibility for a half-century now.

The escapees would be in their 80s if they are still alive. According to this NPR story, there was a legend that they would meet again at the prison on the 50th anniversary of their escape. Believe it or not, U.S. Marshalls were there to meet them just in case. I haven’t heard of any old men being captured yet, but I’m writing this at 11:30PM, so I guess it could still happen.

Fifty years ago, three men set out into the frigid waters of the San Francisco Bay in a raft made out of raincoats. It was one of the most daring prison escapes in U.S. history.

As one newsreel put it: The spoon proved “mightier than the bars at supposedly escape-proof Alcatraz prison.”

“Three bank robbers serving long terms scratched their way through grills covering an air vent, climbed a drainage pipe and disappeared from the forbidding rock in San Francisco Bay,” the report continued.

The men — Frank Morris and two brothers, John and Clarence Anglin — were never seen again. It was a brilliant plan, carried out with meticulous care and patience, but with such an unsatisfying ending. Did they make it? Or are they, as most people assume, at the bottom of the bay?

The legend has always held that if the men are alive, they will return to Alcatraz on the 50th anniversary of their breakout. There’s little chance that’s going to happen. But the anniversary is Monday, and I’m headed to the island to see if they show up. The U.S. Marshals say they will be there, too.

There have been a number of movies made about the daring escape. Clint Eastwood made a good one.

In political news, I’ve got a couple of long reads for you.

Ryan Lizza has a piece in The New Yorker about Obama’s second term: What would Obama do if reelected? In case you don’t want to plow through the whole thing, Atlantic Wire has a Reader’s Digest version: Obama’s Advisers Want You to Know He’ll Be a Lame Lame Duck President

If The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza is right, we might be in for four more years of compromise on things like climate change and nuclear proliferation. Lizza has an article this week forecasting Obama’s second term, or rather, what Obama’s advisers want you to know about the President’s second term.

Don’t expect much. Obama and his team aren’t revealing their cards on the pressing issues like the economy (Lizza mentions there’s time for one big policy change) or inflammatory issues like same-sex marriage. And their lack of specifics about the President’s second term has been a story in itself, especially when contrasted with Mitt Romney who has already imagined his first days in the White House. As Lizza reports, the message that the president’s team wants out there is that Obama will be banking on bipartisan support (a word that’s peppered the president’s first term) to maybe get things done in the short time he has.

It sounds a lot like the first term.

At TomDispatch, Andy Kroll has a lengthy article about how Wisconsin was hijacked.

The results of Tuesday’s elections are being heralded as the death of public-employee unions, if not the death of organized labor itself. Tuesday’s results are also seen as the final chapter in the story of the populist uprising that burst into life last year in the state capital of Madison. The Cheddar Revolution, so the argument goes, was buried in a mountain of ballots.

But that burial ceremony may prove premature. Most of the conclusions of the last few days, left and right, are likely wrong.

The energy of the Wisconsin uprising was never electoral. The movement’s mistake: letting itself be channeled solely into traditional politics, into the usual box of uninspired candidates and the usual line-up of debates, primaries, and general elections. The uprising was too broad and diverse to fit electoral politics comfortably. You can’t play a symphony with a single instrument. Nor can you funnel the energy and outrage of a popular movement into a single race, behind a single well-worn candidate, at a time when all the money in the world from corporate “individuals” and right-wing billionaires is pouring into races like the Walker recall.

Colin Millard, an organizer at the International Brotherhood of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental, and Reinforcing Iron Workers, admitted as much on the eve of the recall. We were standing inside his storefront office in the small town of Horicon, Wisconsin. It was night outside. “The moment you start a recall,” he told me, “you’re playing their game by their rules.”

Check it out. It’s well worth the read.

In other news,

Yesterday the Supreme Court declined to hear appeals from some detainees at Guantanamo. At Mother Jones, Adam Serwer asks: Did the Supreme Court Just Gut Habeas Rights?

The Supreme Court’s decision on Monday not to hear appeals from a group of Gitmo detainees leaves the remaining 169 detainees at the facility with little chance of securing their freedom through US courts.

In the 2008 case Boumediene v. Bush, the Supreme Court ruled detainees at Gitmo could challenge their detention in US courts. That decision was seen as effectively ending the Bush administration’s attempt to carve out a legal black hole for suspected terror detainees. Shortly thereafter, Gitmo detainees began appealing their detentions—and frequently winning in court. But in the years since the decision, conservative judges on the DC Circuit have interpreted the law in a way that assumes many of the government’s claims are true and don’t have to be proven in court. By not taking any of these cases, the Supreme Court has ensured these stricter rules will prevail. Civil-libertarian groups say that essentially leaves detainees at Gitmo with habeas rights in name only, since the rules make it virtually impossible for detainees to win in court. A Seton Hall University School of Law report from May found that, prior to the DC Circuit’s reinterpretation of the rules, detainees won 56 percent of cases. Afterwards, they won 8 percent.

The march toward fascism continues. In other cheery news, a new Federal Reserve report says that the “Great Recession erased nearly 40% of family wealth.”

The Great Recession took such a heavy toll on the economy that the typical American family lost nearly 40% of its wealth from 2007 to 2010, shaving the median net worth to a level not seen since the early 1990s.

The Federal Reserve said in a new report Monday that median family net worth, the point smack in the middle of those richer and poorer, fell to $77,300 in 2010 from $126,400 three years earlier after adjusting for inflation.

The fall came with the collapse in the housing market and massive layoffs that slashed people’s incomes, and the pain was felt by families across the board — young and old, well-educated and less so, with children or not.

But the biggest impact was felt by young middle-age families, those headed by people ages 35 to 44. For this group, the median net worth — total assets minus debts — fell a whopping 54% in the three-year period to $42,100 in 2010. Such was their financial hardships that only 47.6% of these families said they had saved money in 2010; that was the lowest among all age groups, where an overall average of 52% of families saved some money that year.

Senator Carl Levin (D-Michigan) is “‘worried’ by influx of dark money” in the 2012 election because of the Citizen’s United decision.

“The thing that worries me frankly the most is the huge amount of hidden money which is going to get into — it already is in — the Romney campaign,” he said on Current TV’s War Room.

“The Super PAC money worries me. The fact that Mr. Romney will not disclose who is bundling his money, he is keeping that secret as well… It’s bad enough that we have these unlimited amounts of money that go into Super PACs.”

Levin says that Congress could force SuperPacs to reveal the names of donors, but so far the Republicans have blocked his bill to do that.

At The Daily Beast, Peter Beinart asks why Bashar al-Assad isn’t on President Obama’s “kill list.” After all, he claims the right to kill just about anyone in the name of terrorism. If Assad isn’t a terrorist, who is?

Fine, you say, but there’s an executive order against assassinating heads of state. That’s true, but we don’t exactly abide by it. During the Cold War, the United States helped orchestrate coups that led to the deaths of South Vietnam’s Ngo Dinh Diem and Chile’s Salvador Allende. The Bush administration launched the 2003 Iraq War with a decapitation strike aimed at killing Saddam Hussein. And whether or not the United States had a hand in Muammar Gaddafi’s death last fall, it was the predictable—and perhaps desired—result of the war we launched.

But doesn’t assassinating foreign leaders set a worrisome precedent? If we can kill Bashar al-Assad, what’s to stop the Syrian government from trying to kill Barack Obama? We might ask the same question about the sanctions we impose and the wars we launch. The point is that the U.S. violates other countries’ sovereignty in all kinds of ways we wouldn’t appreciate if they did it to us. And the reason they don’t is not because they lack a precedent; it’s because they lack the power.

I’m speechless.

So what is on your reading list today?

22 Comments on “Tuesday Reads: Crime and Movies, Obama’s Second Term, How the Wisconsin Uprising Got Hijacked, and Other News”

  1. Pat Johnson says:

    If I were asked to guess what Obama’s second term would look like, it would be this:

    Much of the same if the GOP continues to control the House with the Senate held hostage by the filibuster rule and nothing of importance will ever get done.

    The GOP will hold fast to the strategy of “No”, the economy will be in another free flow, and public services will be cut at greater speed. The idea will be to clear the way for the “darlings” of the GOP to ready themselves for 2016.

    This will include Rubio, Christie, Ryan, and the like who will be hefted onto the national stage after 8 years of obstructionism that will only have benefited themselves.

    The GOP will block any form of commonsense then use that tactic to point fingers at the Dems who they can villfiy for “getting nothing done” during Obama’s terms.

    Unless the election in November can produce more sanity driven candidates – and this is a big if with Citizens United behind every race in the nation – then it will be 4 more years of a “do nothing congress” devoted to their own ends rather than to serve the public at large.

    I see few changes in the House and a possible loss in the Senate that even should Obama win will only tie his hands since this has been the objective all along.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Sadly, that would probably be a lot better than what would happen if Romney wins. I’m beginning to worry that he might.

      • Pat Johnson says:

        That very same thought is in my head as well.

        I can’t imagine anything worse but he does continue to climb in some polls that leads me to share your opinion.

        Obama may not actually deserve a second term but the alternative is dire.

      • bostonboomer says:

        It’s just that the media is giving Romney much more favorable coverage. It almost seems like Obama has disappeared. Maybe I’m imagining it.

        • dakinikat says:

          He’s the flavor of the month finally. He’ll peek near the convention and it will most likely be downhill from there on. I can’t imagine him successfully debating Obama. He’s too thin skinned and Obama can really stick the sword in and turn it.

      • Woman Voter says:

        Yesterday Obama girl bailed and hinted she would vote for Romney. Oprah and others are no where to be seen and Joe Biden was turning campaign stops into ‘Elect Joe in 2016’. 😯

        Yes We Can – Barack Obama Music Video

        If Obama is going to be believed he had better do some panels like Hillary did (Oh, the ones the press didn’t cover because she didn’t have a ‘Hillary Boy video’ to discuss the economy and specifically to address the foreclosures…which we now know was a sound concern.) and begin to put forth a plan. Last poll I hear ROmney was up by 2 points.

  2. mjames says:

    At this point I would be quite happy to have Florida and Texas secede, along with all the other states that take more in federal money than they pay in taxes. All of them. Then the rest of us could get on with trying to lead productive lives. I am dead serious. They can ban abortion, shoot at will, stop public education, make homosexuality a crime, enshrine racism into law, expel anyone with a different skin color or accent, cut taxes down to nil, form a government religion (combining the harshest elements of Catholicism, evangelicalism, and fundamentalism), rescind child labor laws, rescind all regulation of banks and corporations, frack and coal-mine their hearts away, and implement whatever other nonsense they want. (They won’t have any money for wars, so I think we’re safe there.)

    There is no bridging the gap with these fools, and Obama is both an idiot and a co-conspirator (not to mention a war criminal and murderer).

    Otherwise, with Obama at the helm, the should-be secessionists will continue to destroy any chance at this country putting itself back on the “right” track (“right” as in “promoting the general welfare,” as opposed to “right” as in “wrong”).

    • That is one way to get rid of a bunch of rotten to the core Senators. Then the remaining States would have to deal with immigration. Perhaps the governments would need to set up a prisoner or citizen exchange program. Would the 1% opt to become citizens of this new South? Or will they choose to live in the north, and exploit the newest third world countries.

  3. bostonboomer says:

    Paul Krugman has a chart that shows that the public employees that the Republicans are vilifying are overwhelmingly teachers, police and firefighters. The other categories of jobs are very small in comparison.

    • Pat Johnson says:

      The facts no longer matter when you can chant the same lies over and over until the majority begins to believe it.

      The “beauty” of the GOP is they do not care that they are lying through their teeth, just that enough low information voters, those who hate Obama, and a smattering of those who detest the government at large buy into the meme.

      Few show a moment of shame when confronted or called out for the distortions.

    • dakinikat says:

      Unfortunately, reason,data, and theory don’t count in this upside down world. Only the lies of big money and the stupidity of US citizens.

    • NW Luna says:

      This commentator nailed it:

      Peter Principle, Philadephia, PA: To be fair, Mitt doesn’t want to fire cops, firefighters and teachers — just cut their pay, slash their benefits, and demolish their unions.

      Once an LBO artist, always an LBO artist. June 12, 2012 at 12:43 p.m.

    • NW Luna says:

      “Higher education” includes academic medical centers. Their hospitals and clinics serve patients on Medicare and Medicaid in far higher numbers than do for-profit hospitals and clinics.

      So healthcare providers and patients with “undesirable insurance” get shafted too. How surprising for Romney. /s

  4. Okay, maybe I am just too sensitive about these things. But it is Texas…and we have seen how female rape victims are treated.

    Texas father kills man molesting daughter, 4, isn’t charged – latimes.com

    the 23-year-old father told investigators he beat the man with his hands.

    “He did not use a weapon,” she said.

    On Monday, Harmon told Houston’s KPRC-TV that the victim, whose name has not been released, was from Gonzales, Texas, and did not have a criminal record.

    Harmon told KPRC that the victim was an acquaintance of the girl’s father who came to the barn near Shiner, a town about 130 miles west of Houston, on Saturday to help care for some horses.

    The adults were shoeing a horse and had sent the 4-year-old and her brother to feed chickens when the attack occurred, a relative told KPRC.

    The children’s grandfather said the boy returned to alert his father that the little girl had been taken away by a man. The father found the pair partially naked, investigators told KPRC.

    “In the course of trying to get her away from him, and protect her, he struck the subject several times in the head and the subject died,” Harmon told KPRC. “There doesn’t appear to be any reason other than what he told us.”

    The girl was taken to a hospital to be examined and has since been released, Harmon said.

    The man molesting the girl is called “victim.”

    “The girl” is not the victim?

    • Here are a few other articles about this story:

      Should Parents Be Allowed to Kill People Who Sexually Molest Their Kids? A Texas Father Will Find Out | Healthland | TIME.com

      This one from Time also bothers me, from a different perspective:

      If the sheriff’s take on the situation is accurate, the father — described by Harmon as “very remorseful” — has little to fear in terms of legal repercussions. Harmon told CNN:

      “You have a right to defend your daughter. He acted in defense of his third person. Once the investigation is completed we will submit it to the district attorney who then submits it to the grand jury, who will decide if they will indict him.”

      Assuming the situation occurred as it’s been described, it’s unlikely that a grand jury would be able to summon up much compassion for the alleged child molester. There are bad crimes and there are really bad crimes, and sexually assaulting kids falls under the latter.
      Molesting any child is reprehensible, but taking advantage of a 4-year-old who has no awareness of what’s going on and no ability to fight back seems particularly deranged. How might you have reacted if you were the parent? I’d like to think I would have grabbed my child away and screamed for help, but the Mama Bear instinct lies latent in all parents for just these sorts of situations.

      Something about the way it is reported, I don’t know…

      TX Dad Kills Man for Sex Assault on Daughter | Reuters

      A Texas father beat and killed a man allegedly caught trying to sexually assault his 4-year-old daughter — a killing that may be justified under a Texas statute similar to Florida’s Stand Your Ground law.

      Grand jury to get case of Texas dad who beat alleged child molester to death | Fox News

      This fox one also mentions the man allegedly molesting the child as the victim…

      • I can see how a parent could lose control – and react like this father.

        But you are correct — the child was the victim.

        The key in my mind was how the father responded in the aftermath.

        One article I read did express concern for the child — the word victim wasn’t used — but the focus was on the horror of the experience for the child.

      • NW Luna says:

        The Time article bothers me due to the wording: “allowed” and “to kill.” The word allow assumes permission, or at the least, non-retribution after the fact. Allow to kill implies that the father intended to kill the alleged molester. I’d argue that the father wanted foremost to drive off the attacker. It doesn’t take much force to cause brain or spine injury if the subject’s head hit a hard surface, and he was hobbled by pants around his ankles.

        Is not a more accurate question: “Should a father who fights off his 4-yr old daughter’s sexual molester be punished if his defensive blows cause lethal injury?”

        Real justice, IMO, would call for an “involuntary manslaughter” finding, and no penalty.

    • NW Luna says:

      Another example of misogyny. How about “alleged molester”? At least Harmon called the man a “subject,” not a “victim.”

      And that poor child: At 4 yrs old, she’s barely out of toddlerhood! At least one time they used “the little girl.”

      “The girl was taken to a hospital to be examined and has since been released, Harmon said.” I hope the little one was seen by a SANE (sexual assault {forensically trained} nurse examiner) who has the special training to comfort the child, and do an exam to get evidence to nail that scumbag.

      What a fine job her brother did, to go get his father to help.

  5. I’ve been surfing the web to see what sort of reaction potential 0bama voters have to the news that he won’t be much different in President-ing than his first term. There are the 20 to 30% hard core 0bama supporters who will stand behind their 2008 decision. Then there are the middle class voters who were hoping for a new and improved 0-man.

    For Romney — a focus group of women didn’t like him when he was running for MA Gov. The felt he had little or no understanding of the middle class. (Which is a problem 0-man has as well.)

    Romney could win the swing States by default — if the middle class has NO reason to vote FOR 0bama — why bother?(Just playing devil’s advocate here.)

    Link for article re: 0bama as lame duck in BB’s essay above. Who is the lame duck message for? For the moneyed backers? That message won’t go over well with the middle class. Could it be that the poor lawyering at the Supremes by the White House lawyer — was on purpose? To kill the health care whatever law — so that 0bama could use the law’s defeat as a promise to do SOMETHING? There was speculation on just that topic (failing on purpose in front of Supremes).

    Something isn’t adding up.

  6. Woman Voter says:


    Have you seen this:

    Latino Rebels ‏@latinorebels

    Shellie Zimmerman Booked For One Count of Perjury