Tuesday Reads: A Mixed Bag (No Politics)

Good Morning!!

I’ve decided to avoid presidential politics this morning, but I have a variety of interesting news links that I hope you’ll enjoy.

I’m going to begin with some crime stories. Do you remember Amy Bishop? She was the University of Alabama Huntsville biology professor who was turned down for tenture and later murdered three of her colleagues and wounded three others at a department faculty meeting in early 2010. I wrote a couple of posts about her at the time, see here and here. Today Bishop was sentenced to life in prison.

A former Alabama biology professor who pleaded guilty to killing three colleagues and wounding three others in a 2010 shooting rampage was sentenced to life in prison without parole on Monday after a jury convicted her in a shortened trial.

Amy Bishop avoided a death sentence by admitting earlier this month to gunning down her colleagues during a biology department staff meeting at the University of Alabama at Huntsville.

Alabama law requires a jury to decide the punishment and confirm a guilty plea for a capital murder charge.

Bishop’s defense attorneys did not contest the facts of the case during the abbreviated proceedings on Monday.

“She has admitted she did these terrible things,” defense attorney Robert Tuten said in his opening statement.

A few days ago, there was some interesting news in the Trayvon Martin case.

Forensic tests made public Wednesday show that George Zimmerman’s was the only DNA that could be identified on the grip of the gun used to fatally shoot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

The results rule out Martin’s DNA from being on the gun’s grip. Zimmerman’s DNA also was identified on the gun’s holster, but no determination could be made as to whether Martin’s DNA was on the gun’s holster, according to the report from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

I wonder if that will affect Zimmerman’s decision to go through with the stand-your-ground hearing that his attorney Mark O’Mara has scheduled for next year?

O’Mara is also trying to get access to Trayvon Martin’s school records even though they couldn’t be introduced at trial because they are not relevant to the crime, according to prosecutor Bernie de La Ronda.

In a new pleading, Assistant State Attorney Bernie de la Rionda asks Circuit Judge Debra S. Nelson to seal whatever those records show and in the future to keep O’Mara’s subpoenas a secret.

O’Mara is entitled to go on a fishing expedition to find out about Trayvon’s past, according to court paperwork de la Rionda filed Wednesday, but “he is not allowed to chum the waters and then, by innuendo or otherwise, to publish irrelevant items … to the media in an attempt to influence public perception or otherwise curry favor with potential jurors.”

De la Rionda also Wednesday filed a new evidence list – his eighth. It shows that a book and television appearance by Zimmerman’s self-proclaimed best friend, former Seminole County deputy Mark Osterman, are now officially part of the case prosecutors are building against Zimmerman.

Osterman’s self-published book, written with his wife, is titled “Defending Our Friend: The Most Hated Man in America.” From Examiner.com:

A new book claims that before being shot in the chest and dying, Trayvon Martin grabbed the gun of George Zimmerman, as the two struggled during a violent encounter, according to a report Thursday. This, despite the findings released this week that none of the teen’s DNA was found on the weapon….

The Miami Herald reports that Osterman was the first person Zimmerman’s wife called after the shooting. A former U.S. air marshal, he was with his friend during Zimmerman’s first three police interrogations.

According to the Herald, Osterman’s account of what took place the night of Martin’s death is “a sharp deviation from the versions Zimmerman gave…”

In his book, Osterman quotes Zimmerman as saying, “I desperately got both of my hands around the guy’s one wrist and took his hand off my mouth long enough for me to shout again for help.”

The quote continues, “For a brief moment I had control of the wrist, but I knew when he felt the sidearm at my waist with his leg. He took his hand that was covering my nose and went for the gun, saying, ‘You’re gonna die now, mother*****.’ Somehow I broke his grip on the gun where the guy grabbed it between the rear sight and the hammer. I got the gun in my hand, raised it toward the guy’s chest and pulled the trigger.”

James Holmes

I also have an update on the Aurora, Colorado theater shooting. Accused shooter James Holmes recently appeared in court with short brown hair and a few days’ growth of beard.

Seeking to avoid any delays in the Colorado movie theater shooting case, prosecutors gave up their fight to see a notebook the suspect sent to a university psychiatrist and instead argued for a palm print to compare with one found on the inside of a theater exit door.

James Holmes appeared in court Thursday with short brown hair instead of a wild shock of orangish-red hair and seemed more animated than he has been in the past. He smiled and glanced around the courtroom, looking at his lawyers and reporters covering the hearing. He appeared to be moving his mouth but not actually talking.

Prosecutors believe they still have good arguments for getting access to the notebook and will continue to fight for it. Oddly, some victims’ families refuse to believe that Holmes is mentally ill.

Family members receiving updates about Holmes from the courtroom said it’s all an act by the former University of Colorado, Denver, neuroscience graduate student to appear mentally ill.

“He’s just putting on a show,” said Greg Medek of Aurora, whose daughter Micayla, 23, died in the shooting. “I don’t think he’s crazy. He’s just evil.”

The last crime story is about the New York man who jumped into a tiger cage.

Before his now-infamous tangle with a Bronx Zoo tiger, David Villalobos adorned his Facebook page with New Age odes to Mother Earth and affirmations like, “Be love and fearless.”

Police said Saturday that Villalobos had told detectives that it was without fear that he leaped from an elevated train into the animal’s den. His reason, they said, was that “he wanted to be one with the tiger.”

Villalobos also recounted how, after he landed on all fours, the 400-pound beast attacked him and dragged around by his foot, said New York Police Department spokesman Paul Browne. Despite serious injuries, he claimed he was able to get his wish and pet the tiger — a male Siberian named Bashuta — before his rescue, the spokesman added.

Based on those admissions and a complaint from the zoo, police charged the hospitalized Villalobos with misdemeanor trespassing on Saturday. It was unclear if the 25-year-old real estate agent had an attorney, and attempts to reach relatives were unsuccessful.

There’s much more weird info at the link.

Here’s a bloodcurdling historical story for you from The Daily Beast. It’s a review of a new book, “Soldaten: On Fighting, Killing, and Dying: The Secret WWII Transcripts of German POWs” by Sönke Neitzel and Harald Welzer.

How much did World War II German soldiers know about the Holocaust? Publicly, many of them denied knowledge. But a long-lost cache of secret recordings that the British intelligence service made of German prisoners of war show that, in private, they chatted openly and casually about mass-murdering Jews, demonstrating what Hannah Arendt called “the banality of evil.”

The book consists of transcripts of conversations secretly recorded by British intelligence. I’m not going to include an except, because the material is pretty gruesome. You can read it all at the link. But this certainly will be a valuable addition to the history of Nazi Germany and WWII.

The Foxconn plant in China where apple products are manufactured has been shut down because of riots that took place over the weekend.

SHANGHAI — Foxconn Technology, a major supplier to some of the world’s electronics giants, including Apple, said it had closed one of its large Chinese plants Monday after the police were called in to break up a fight among factory employees.

A spokesman said some people had been hurt and detained by the police after the disturbance escalated into a riot involving more than 1,000 workers late Sunday.

The company said the incident was confined to an employee dormitory and “no production facilities or equipment have been affected.” It said the cause of the disturbance was still under investigation.

One Foxconn employee reached by telephone Monday afternoon, however, said the incident began when workers started brawling with security guards.

Unconfirmed photographs and video circulated on social networking sites, purporting to be from the factory, showed smashed windows, riot police officers and large groups of workers milling around. The Foxconn plant, in the Chinese city of Taiyuan, employs about 79,000 workers.

The Chinese state-run news media said 5,000 police officers had been called in to quell the riot.

This one is for Connie: Stranded 655-pound turtle reluctantly released.

A 655-pound leatherback sea turtle that had been stranded in thick mud in Truro on Wednesday night was released off the coast of Harwich Port Saturday morning, New England Aquarium officials said.

A Massachusetts Audubon Society staff member spotted the 7-foot-long black male turtle in Pamet Harbor Wednesday night as high tide approached, said Connie Merigo, the aquarium’s rescue director.

Aquarium staff and volunteers, along with staff members of the Audubon Society and International Fund for Animal Welfare, brought the turtle to the aquarium’s Animal Care Center in Quincy near dawn Thursday.

The sea turtle was about 100 pounds underweight and had low blood sugar and an old injury on his front right fin, Merigo said.

“When he first got here he was fairly lethargic, especially out of the water,” head veterinarian Dr. Charles Innis said.

Innis said the turtle was treated aggressively with “injectable sugar solution, vitamin and mineral supplements, steroids, and antibiotics to stave off infection.” It wouldn’t have been possible to keep him any longer, because leatherbacks are so stressed by being in captivity that they usually don’t survive long.

That’s all I have for now. I hope you enjoyed the break from politics. I know I did. Now what are you reading and blogging about today?

26 Comments on “Tuesday Reads: A Mixed Bag (No Politics)”

  1. ecocatwoman says:

    Great roundup, bb. And thanks for both the absence of politics (I’m on overload) & the leatherback story. I hadn’t heard about that or the tiger incident.

    My father helped liberate one of the concentration camps at the end of WWII. He rarely spoke about it, but what I heard was horrible beyond belief. I think that is one reason that I firmly believe that humans are the real beasts among us.

  2. Thanks for the links BB, off to read them now!

  3. RalphB says:

    Great post, BB. Sticking with the no politics slant, this is a neat discovery.

    Milky Way Surrounded By Humongous Halo Of Hot Gas

    Scientists using NASA’s orbital X-ray space telescope Chandra have discovered that our own Milky Way Galaxy has a massive halo of superheated gas surrounding it, the agency announced on Monday.

    It’s difficult to conceive of just how large the hot gas halo is, but NASA notes it could extend more than 300,000 light years out from its center, and have a mass equivalent between 10 billion suns and 60 billion suns, or just as many or more than all of the stars in the Milky Way itself, at a temperature “a few hundred times hotter” than the surface of our Sun (between 1 million and 2.5 million kelvin).

    The hot gas halo could also help solve the great cosmic mystery of the missing baryons, or particles including protons and neutrons which ancient galaxies have in abundance and which are thought to have composed a sixth of the matter at the universe’s dawn, but which are found in about half that amount in our galaxy and its neighbors.

    NASA link: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/chandra/news/H-12-331.html

  4. bostonboomer says:

    Why the right wing accusation that Elizabeth Warren practiced law without a license in MA is total B.S.


  5. bostonboomer says:

    The Romneys’ so-called “generous” charity was almost all given to the Mormon church and BYU.

    As the McClatchy Newspapers noted: “In 2011, the Romney’s charitable cash contributions included $1.115 million to the Mormon church and $214,516 to Tyler Charitable Foundation, a Romney family foundation. The Romneys also claimed a deduction of $920,573 for noncash contributions that were not spelled out in a statement accompanying the return.”

    In other words, the Mormon church was the biggest recipient of the Romneys’ largesse. And what does the other main recipient every year, the Tyler Charitable Foundation, do? It makes up for shortcomings in Romney’s donations to his church. According to the Daily Caller, Romney actually fell slightly short of the tithing requirement in 2009. But the Tyler Foundation gives to the Mormon church, and when you add in those contributions as Romney family money, they exceed the threshold. But that, in turn, is true only if you don’t also count the foundation’s income from its investments as Romney family income. If you did, the Romneys would fall well below the tithing requirement.

    Here, via Forbes, is a breakdown of where the Tyler Charitable Foundation has given the more than $7 million it doled out since 2000:

    1. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints: $4,781,000
    2. Brigham Young University: $525,000
    3. The United Way: $177,000
    4. Right to Play: $111,500
    5. The George W. Bush Library: $100,000
    6. Operation Kids: $85,000
    7. Center For Treatment of Pediatric MS: $75,000
    8. Harvard Business School: $70,000
    9. City Year: $65,000
    10. Deseret International: $50,000
    Weber State University: $50,000

    • bostonboomer says:

      The donation to pediatric MS is smaller than the deduction they took for Ann’s dancing horse.

    • Fannie says:

      Oh yeah, this just shows me that his lack of leadership in his pathic church that refuses to allow women to dream, to have equal rights as men, is just another dark horse that he rides in on, and I will not support such a person/party, or church.

  6. bostonboomer says:

    Madonna calls President Obama a “black muslim.” ??!! It doesn’t seem to be a joke either.


  7. dakinikat says:


    EconoTrolls: An Illustrated Bestiary

    In your journey through the Econ Blogosphere, you will be beset by a great many curious and interesting species of EconoTroll. At first you may be intimidated by their voluminous use of insider jargon, their rough-and-tumble personal attacks, their strenuous insistence that you read the complete works of their movements’ founders before participating in any discussion, and above all their sheer persistence and apparent surplus of spare time. But fear not, noble traveler, for I have taken it upon myself to create this Illustrated Bestiary, in order to prepare you for (most of) the characters you will encounter on your way…

  8. RalphB says:

    One of the oddest things in 2012 is the Right’s inability to even conceive of a possible loss to that “blah” President. On memeorandum now, actual news sites are discussing this crap.

    Ed Kilgore: Lets Lie to Ourselves!

    One of the most interesting phenomena of the presidential contest, particularly at this late date, is the absolute incredulity with which many conservatives are facing the possibility of defeat.
    Aside from the technical arguments over “party ID weighting,” the demands of conservatives for more favorable polls reflects the very strangest of all the phenomena of Campaign 2012, from my perspective: the pathological need of many Republicans to predict victory with a fanatical degree of certainty—yea, with angry hysteria aimed at anyone friend or foe who doubts for a single moment that Republican will win. I’ve yet to entirely figure out whether this is a product of a general POV intolerant to doubt about anything (this is the party, after all, in which it is entirely acceptable to refer to your mundane political activism as “spiritual warfare” aimed at “Satan”); or is based on a mysterious conviction that a lot of votes turn on who voters think is winning; or is just habitual spin by people who see no particular reason to spend any time conceding they could be wrong about anything.

    From a practical point of view, the new mania for “reweighting” polls on the Right effectively removes those conservatives who indulge in it from any meaningful dialogue with the rest of us. But I suspect they are too busy lying to themselves to worry about that. I shudder to think how the conservative punditocracy will react to an adverse result on November 6, but it would be wise to have a lot of decompression chambers handy.

    • RalphB says:

      Here are the latest polls from the battleground states. According to wingnuts, Romney is really far ahead of Obama in all these polls 😉

      Florida: Obama 51%, Romney 47% (Washington Post)

      Nevada: Obama 52%, Romney 43% (PPP/LCV)

      Nevada: Obama 46%, Romney 46% (Bolger) Bolger is a GOP operative

      Ohio: Obama 52%, Romney 44% (Washington Post)

      Ohio: Obama 45%, Romney 44% (Gravis)

      Pennsylvania: Obama 48%, Romney 40% (Mercyhurst University

      • bostonboomer says:

        New WaPo poll has Obama opening up leads in Ohio and Florida.

        Among likely voters, Obama is ahead of Romney in Ohio 52 percent to 44 percent. In Florida, the president leads 51 percent to 47 percent, a numerical but not statistically significant edge. Among all registered Florida voters, Obama is ahead by nine percentage points.

        The new numbers come one week after a Washington Post poll in Virginia showed Obama with a clear lead there. More than half of all money spent in the campaign has focused on these three states, and many analysts say Romney has to win two of the three to capture the White House.

  9. bostonboomer says:

    Pool reporter says Romney was joking about airplane windows and audience laughed.


    But what’s the joke? I guess rich people have different senses of humor than the rest of us.