Saturday Reads: Newtown Anniversary, Normalizing Gun Violence, and Other News

Henri-Matisse-Painting-011 child reading

Good Morning!!

I spent yesterday preparing for Winter Storm Electra. I stopped by the hardware store to get ice melt crystals and then headed to the grocery store to drop off a prescription and a few things I’ll need in case I can’t get my car out of the driveway for a couple of days.

I had an appointment in the afternoon, and then I made a fruitless attempt to find a parking space in the giant Whole Foods parking lot in Cambridge. Then back to my regular grocery store to pick up my prescription and a few refrigerated items. The store was even more packed this time, so I was glad I had stopped earlier. Finally, I went home, to stash my purchases and scatter ice melt on the all the icy surfaces left over from Winter Storm Dion.

So now I’m in hibernation mode until Monday. I just hope I can handle the shoveling myself. The weather folks are predicting anything from 5 to 12 inches of snow for my area. It was 11 degrees here when I woke up and its only 12 degrees right now. It’s hard to believe it can even snow when it’s so cold. But the weather people say it’s going to snow. If it starts this afternoon, I plan to shovel before it gets dark–then there won’t be so much to do tomorrow. It’s way too early for this. It won’t even be officially winter until next week. Those of you in the Midwest are probably already getting the storm–how is it going there? Is it still cold down South? We can commiserate in the comments.

Now to the news. It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since Newtown, but today is the anniversary of that awful day. It still breaks my heart when I think about it. I can’t even begin to imagine the pain of the families who lost children. From CNN:

Horror struck Newtown, Connecticut, in such a disturbing way that the nation still struggles with its impact a year later.

The legacy of the second-deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history is so profound that it cannot hold just one meaning. It holds several. That’s because the crime itself conveys multiple issues in its summary:

A mentally ill 20-year-old recluse obsessed with school shootings enters Sandy Hook Elementary School after the morning bell and kills six adult women, 12 girls and eight boys in 11 minutes. The children were 6 or 7 years old. The heavily armed Adam Lanza, who first killed his mother before taking her car to the school, also killed himself, in a classroom.

On the anniversary of the December 14 slaughter — under the shadow of another school shooting, this time at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colorado — country and community alike pause and reflect on an event known simply as “Newtown” or “Sandy Hook” and what it says about America on the matters of guns, mental health, healing, and the human spirit.

Henri Matisse-324684

A whole year after the slaughter of 20 first-graders and 6 adults, and our do-nothing Congress has done exactly nothing to control the purchase of weapons of war for everyday use. CBS News reports:

Not a single federal law curbing gun violence has passed in the year since a young man from Newtown, Conn. who’d long exhibited signs of mental instability got a hold of his mother’s AR-15-style Bushmaster rifle and two of her handguns and gunned down 20 first-graders and six of their educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School before taking his own life.

Capping a year that saw the most mass shootings in U.S. history, Newtown seemed to mark a turning point in national conversation about gun control. Within a month of the shooting, President Obama – promising to make the issue a hallmark of his second-term agenda – had signed several executive orders to make schools safer and gun purchases more transparent. But real reform, he said, would require bipartisan backing from lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

Six months after the Dec. 14, 2012 tragedy, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., insisted the push for tougher gun laws and bolstered support for mental health in America was “still on the front burner.” But foundation for that statement was flimsy.

Manchin’s own amendment to strengthen background checks for gun purchases – co-sponsored by Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., and seen by many in Congress to be the most realistic hope for immediate reform to gun laws – had collapsed in the Senate two months earlier. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., had “hit pause” on debate over firearms altogether, pulling the legislation from the floor indefinitely.

The emotions surrounding Newtown, it seemed, were no longer driving the conversation about gun control.

Is anyone really surprised that something a huge majority of Americans support cannot get through Congress? Of course not. We can’t even get them to stop hurting the economy with their obsessive and idiotic push for unnecessary austerity. We should turn every one of them out of office–Democrats and Republicans and start from scratch.

And is anyone shocked that there was another school shooting the day before this horrible anniversary? Why should we be? Our so-called leaders don’t seem to care how many children die so they can keep getting donations from the NRA. A couple of stories on the shooting in Colorado.

matisselike portraits by kids

Denver Post as of last night: Shooting at Arapahoe High School, 1 girl in critical condition, gunman dead.

A student carried a shotgun into Arapahoe High School, asked where to find a specific teacher and then opened fire on Friday, Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson said. He shot a fellow student in the head before apparently killing himself.

A 15-year-old girl was reported in critical condition after undergoing surgery. Two other students were treated and released from a hospital for non-gunshot injuries.

The gunman, identified as 18-year-old Karl Pierson, was found dead inside a classroom from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, Robinson said. Authorities believe he acted alone.

Robinson said authorities are investigating reports that Pierson may have been motivated by revenge against the teacher following a disagreement….Fellow classmates described the gunman as a bright student and a gifted debater whose family attended Bible study meetings.

A little more from USA Today:

The shootings — on the eve of the anniversary of the Newtown school massacre, in which 20 students and six staffers were murdered — sent scores of terrified students and staffers at Centennial’s Arapahoe High School scurrying at about 12:30 p.m. Police and other first responders quickly mobilized to surround the 2,220-student school.

A 15-year-old girl suffered a gunshot wound and was reported in critical condition at a Littleton hospital Friday evening.One other student suffered minor gunshot-related injuries and was released from the hospital hours later, authorities said. Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson said Friday night that another girl taken to a hospital was covered in blood from the other student, but wasn’t injured….

The gunman also brought two Molotov cocktails inside the school and exploded one, KUSA-TV reported. The other was found and removed by the bomb squad.

The incident unfolded when the armed student entered the west side of the school from a student parking lot. He told other students he was interested in confronting a specific teacher. “Word got around immediately,” Robinson said.

The teacher, informed of the situation, fled the building unharmed, said Robinson, who noted that the teacher’s decision to flee helped limit the potential carnage.

Our children are dying violently in this country, in places in which they should be safe–their schools and their homes. Why aren’t we doing anything to protect them? At an age when they should be concentrating on learning, developing social skills, and just having fun, our children are threatened by gun violence on a daily basis. What kind of nation allows this kind of slaughter to continue in the name of “second amendment rights” and greed? A few more links from around the ‘net:

Reuters: Obama marks Newtown school shooting anniversary with call for gun control

Star-Tribune Nation: In Newtown, a year of wrenching reminders

Mother Jones: Portraits of the Hundreds of Children Killed by Guns Since Newtown

Matthew Lysiak at The Guardian: We can no longer allow sick individuals like Adam Lanza to go on untreated

New York Daily News: Another year of the gun 

Gawker: What Kind of Monster Wants to Shoot Up His School? (highly recommended)

Matisse reading

In other news, 

Here’s a surprising story from Jonthan Turley’s blog: Federal Court Strikes Down Criminalization of Polygamy In Utah

It is with a great pleasure this evening to announce that decision of United States District Court judge Clarke Waddoups striking down key portions of the Utah polygamy law as unconstitutional. The Brown family and counsel have spent years in both the criminal phase of this case and then our challenge to the law itself in federal court. Despite the public statements of professors and experts that we could not prevail in this case, the court has shown that it is the rule of law that governs in this country. As I have previously written, plural families present the same privacy and due process concerns faced by gay and lesbian community over criminalization. With this decision, families like the Browns can now be both plural and legal in the state of Utah.  The Court struck down the provision as violating both the free exercise clause of the first amendment as well as the due process clause.   The court specifically struck down language criminalizing cohabitation — the provision that is used to prosecute polygamists.  The opinion is over 90 pages and constitutes a major constitutional ruling in protection of individual rights.

I just don’t know what to say about this, because I associate polygamy with the abuse of women and children. Am I a bigot? A couple more links:

Salt Lake Tribune: Federal judge declares Utah polygamy law unconstitutional

The Telegraph: ‘Sister Wives’ reality star wins legal fight against Utah anti-polygamy law

I haven’t been following the Robert Levinson story, but I will be from now on. Levinson has been missing in Iran for 7 years and has just been outed as a CIA operative. Links:

NYT: A Disappearing Spy, and a Scandal at the C.I.A.

ABC News: Family of Robert Levinson, American Held In Iran, Says He Was Spying for the CIA

The Register-Guard: White House declines to discuss missing American Robert Levinson’s CIA ties

Gawker: ABC, NYT Repeatedly Lied About CIA Operative Robert Levinson

Liberty Voice: Robert Levinson: Used by CIA, Forgotten by USA, Burned by Media, Left in Iran

WaPo: Sen. Bill Nelson: I told AP not to run Robert Levinson story

Those are my offerings today. What stories are you following? Let us know in the comment thread, and have a great weekend!

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44 Comments on “Saturday Reads: Newtown Anniversary, Normalizing Gun Violence, and Other News”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    This is weird:

    BBC News: Desmond Tutu says he’s not going to Mandela’s funeral because he wasn’t invited.

    “I would have loved to attend the service to say a final farewell to someone I loved and treasured,” the retired archbishop said in a statement.

    But he did not want to gatecrash “a private family funeral.”

    However, a presidential spokesman insisted he was among those invited and any problems would be sorted out.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    A couple of follow-up stories on the fake interpreter:

    This one is really scary. Newsday: Secret Service must rely on locals abroad

    This one is even scarier: Fake interpreter reportedly faced murder charge

    JOHANNESBURG (AP) – South Africa’s government was confronted Friday with a new and chilling allegation about the bogus sign language interpreter at Nelson Mandela’s memorial: He was reportedly accused of murder 10 years ago.

    Officials said they were investigating the revelation by the national eNCA TV news station. But they were unable, or unwilling, to explain why a man who says he is schizophrenic with violent tendencies was allowed to get within arm’s length of President Barack Obama and other world leaders.

    Investigators probing Thamsanqa Jantjie “will compile a comprehensive report,” said Phumla Williams, the top government spokeswoman. But she did not say how long the investigation would take and insisted details would not be released until it was completed.

  3. janicen says:

    I haven’t finished reading the post yet but I need to say, don’t you dare shovel in that cold. Just don’t. The ice melt will work wonders and you are not going anywhere anyway. Please don’t try to shovel. The extreme cold will make your heart work harder and the snow heavier. Please.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Thanks. I won’t if it stays this cold. I assume it will warm up with the snow. You’re right, I really shouldn’t overdo it anyway because I’m getting over a cold.

      • NW Luna says:

        And if you’re going to shovel, do it very slowly and take lots of breaks.

        However, the colder it is, the lighter the snow is (usually). Snow around freezing temps is wet and soggy, more compact, so you get more weight per shovelful. “Cascade cement,” as skiers call it around here.

    • Fannie says:

      Good advise………

  4. Fannie says:

    BB, supposedly your’re not to view this as a polygamy case, but PRIVACY case. It was single judge that ruled in this case (Clarke Waddoups)…………….personally, I’d like to see this go to the tenth circuit in Colorado, and up to the Surpreme Court. Comparing polygamy to gay marriage doesn’t strike a note in my book. And what happens, with this seen as federal crime, once they cross over state lines? Then what? This does nothing but make it harder for women and young girls in their recovery from Mormonism. Didn’t we just talk about a woman who left that church, and had a book and document on tv?

    • bostonboomer says:

      I know, but more privacy will allow polygamous sects to cover up abuse of women and children, won’t it? This decision worries me. Plus, it buys into the Rick Santorum craziness of linking gay marriage to polygamy and bestiality.

      • dakinikat says:

        Marriage basically exists to make women and children property. I have always wondered why civil rights movements want to extend this model to any one and see it as an innocuous self-fulfilment exercise. The problem that really exists is that it is granted special privileges but that again is because men have a stake in its perpetuation. Frankly, I would rather see the government out of the entire situation instead of trying to resolve marriage’s existence into something that waters down the true impact it has on the less powerful parties stuck in a legally binding contract that historically treats women and children like objects to be bought, sold and controlled. We may have gotten rid of some of the laws–like the ones that used to say wives can’t be raped–but the treatment of children is still appalling. The institution is the source of a most of the country’s battery and abuse and it doesn’t have to be polygamous for that to happen.

        • RalphB says:

          Amen to all that!

        • bostonboomer says:

          That’s so true, Dak. Why didn’t I think of that?

        • NW Luna says:

          Lots of unmarried women are physically and emotionally/mentally abused by their boyfriends, though, so I think it’s not the institution of marriage, but the misogynist culture of power and dominance, that’s the source of so much abuse.

          I do have mixed feelings about marriage. On one hand it’s representative of centuries upon centuries of patriarchal stereotypes, and of women and children as chattel. On the other hand it is a framework to indicate a long-term, deep relationship. Or a religious sacrament, or a legal institution, or just a piece of paper.

          Under WA state law, anything of value received by one spouse is considered community property and so belongs to both partners. There are very few exceptions — inherited assets are one. But the community property law helps give protection to a “non-working” spouse, such as a wife who stays home and raises the kids while husband works a highly paid job. The wife has legal ownership of half the couple’s assets regardless if bought with the husband’s income. I think several other western states have this community-property law. It has its drawbacks in that one spouse is responsible for the other’s debt.

          • dakinikat says:

            Community property is pretty universal. My ex used it to strip me of my inheritance and a lot of family antiques.

          • NW Luna says:

            Sorry to hear that, Dak; that’s appalling. Inheritance in our state is considered separate property and not joint under community-property law — that’s what my attorney told me about what came to me after my mother’s death a couple of years back.

          • NW Luna says:

            I’ve always thought it odd when people tell someone in an unmarried relationship to be careful if they buy something together. Legally speaking the individuals have more right to get out what each brought in if they break up as unmarrieds than if they marry and then divorce.

          • NW Luna says:

            I thought it was just in western states, but it is in a few others. But not the majority of states.

            “Community property” is a type of joint ownership of property between married couples that is recognized in the following states: Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin. In Alaska, married couples can elect to have some or all of their property treated as community property by stating so in a written contract.

            While the laws in community property states vary, community property generally means that all assets purchased by a married couple with assets earned during the marriage are owned equally by the husband and wife regardless of how it’s titled (unless it’s acquired by gift or inheritance), and all debts are incurred equally. This is contrasted with “separate property” states where spouses can show their proportionate ownership of property by tracing contributions, and property owned in one spouse’s sole name is presumed to be that spouse’s own separate property.

    • RalphB says:

      A federal judge threw out part of Utah’s anti-polygamy law, preserving the part of the law that bans multiple marriage certificates, but overturning the prohibition on cohabitation, because, as you may have noticed, people living together without being married — and even doing the sex — has become pretty routine and not something what we prosecute anymore. The judge wrote that the existing law continues to prohibit

      “bigamy in the literal sense — the fraudulent or otherwise impermissible possession of two purportedly valid marriage licenses for the purpose of entering into more than one purportedly legal marriage.”

      Read more at http://wonkette.com/#eEJPc025ITCuyeSg.99

  5. dakinikat says:

    Well, Ralph, here’s an offset to Wendy Davis:

    Charles Johnson ‏@Green_Footballs 9m
    The GOP is Insane: 3 Out of 4 Texas Lt. Gov. Candidates are Creationists http://lgf.bz/1b5HGaQ

  6. RalphB says:

    Eric Boehlert has a lot to say about our totally screwed up media. Reporting ever since has all been based on the same narrative they set for the gun vote.

    Smirking Chimp: How the Sandy Hook Gun Vote Became a Turning Point… for the Press

  7. bostonboomer says:

    Tom Brady sends a message of support to Bridgewater, MA boys who stood up to bullying and protected their friend.

    “I heard about your story and I can’t imagine how proud your parents must be. Danny, people still tease me about what I wear — but I never listen to them, so keep wearing what makes you feel best.

    “And, Tommy, I love your leadership and how you stood up for Danny, and I applaud the entire Bridgewater Badgers team for participating. I hear you’re both big Patriot fans, so I’d love to give you guys some tickets to our regular-season finale against Buffalo in a few weeks, and give you some pregame field passes, too.”

    Brady also tells the boys that Pats owner Robert Kraft will give the entire Badgers team tickets to the Hall at Patriots Place — news that left their mouths agape.

    • janicen says:

      OMG that story was just what I needed today. I’ve been avoiding all news. I can’t even let myself think about the Newtown tragedy because I start crying, one year later. What must those families of the victims be feeling to know that they lost their precious loved ones in such a horrific fashion and our fucking fascist nation hasn’t done shit to change things?

      The Danny story made me smile and feel hopeful again. Thank you.

      • bostonboomer says:

        I’m glad you liked it. I had posted a story about it a couple of weeks ago, and I thought it was a nice follow-up.

        I know the Newtown story is heartbreaking, but I felt I had to acknowledge the anniversary. I tried not to get too graphic.

        • RalphB says:

          BB, that was perfect. Thanks.

        • janicen says:

          Oh bb, I’m sorry if I made it sound like I was complaining about your post. I adore your posts I’m just surprised that I’m so affected by the events in Newtown although I didn’t have any personal connection to it at all. It speaks to how horrific the event was, not an indictment on people who talk about it. Of course we have to acknowledge what happened. We must never forget it.

          • bostonboomer says:

            No, I didn’t think you were complaining. I can’t stand reading about children being hurt or killed so I could understand how you felt. Last night I was thinking I wanted to write a post full of happy things, but when I realized it was the anniversary, I felt I had to write about it.

  8. bostonboomer says:

    Mark Ames has learned that Omidyar’s Ebay puts data “on a platter for law enforcement”

    http://pando.com/2013/12/14/team-omidar-world-police-ebay-puts-user-data-on-a-silver-platter-for-law-enforcement/

  9. RalphB says:

    Ha…

  10. RalphB says:

    LOL!!!

  11. I just spent at least an hour looking for this quote on Facebook, only to find out it was a tweet. Don’t you hate when that happens. LOL

    and believe me, that shit is real:

    www. topix.com/forum/city/blairsville-ga/TI31B4MA58H7KPVIR

    that is just a recent dialogue about buying bullets at walmart from banjoville’s own local fora…ugh.

  12. RalphB says:

    Nice counter to the beltway media narrative.

    USA Today/Pew Poll Shows Democrats With Advantage in 2014 Elections

    A new poll released on Friday by USA Today and Pew Research shows that voters prefer Democrats to Republicans in a generic Congressional vote. The results showed that 48% of respondents would vote for a Democratic candidate if the 2014 midterms were held today, while 44% would vote Republican. This compares favorably with their previous poll during the government shutdown, when 49% favored Dems against 43% for the GOP.

    When you consider the amount of negative press the mainstream media threw out at the rollout of the ACA and President Obama since the end of the shutdown, Democrats should feel downright giddy to see these poll results. …

  13. RalphB says:

    I hope this is a good film and gets a very wide audience!

    Director to Raw Story: Exposé on brutal Christian school cost me my faith

    Kate Logan, the director of “Kidnapped for Christ,” a documentary exposé about a brutal offshore Christian reform school, said that she lost her Christian faith in the course of making the film.

    In an interview with Raw Story, Logan opened up about how her initial intent was to make a documentary praising the school, but that the façade the Escuela Caribe presented to the world quickly crumbled when she began to interact with the students.