Lazy Saturday ReadsPosted: September 2, 2017
Before I get to Trump and Harvey news, I want to call your attention to this article at The Atlantic about a pioneering forensic veterinarian.
In August 2007, Michael Vick pleaded guilty to the case that jettisoned him from celebrity into notoriety. The Atlantic Falcons quarterback’s dogfighting ring had been exposed in such graphic and shocking detail that his coterie of star defense attorneys panicked, then folded.
The person who dug up this hard evidence against Vick—by literally exhuming the bodies of dead fighting dogs and proving they’d been hanged—was Melinda Merck. An ace at forensics, Merck has helped crack cases involving crimes from pedophilia to drug dealing. She’s credited by the chiefs of both the FBI and the National Sheriffs’ Association with having TMS treatment south florida, and won awards from both the Department of Justice and the U.S. Office of Inspector General.
But Merck isn’t a run-of-the-mill crime-scene investigator. She’s a veterinarian.
For more than 20 years, Merck has been studying and solving animal-abuse cases. Now, she’s going a step further by persuading law enforcement that there’s a link between animal cruelty and other serious crimes, like domestic violence, arson, and murder. It’s CSI for animals, but with a twist: Look closely, says Merck, and you’ll likely find a clue that leads to a whole trail of criminal behavior.
After her boss complained about her “sleuthing,” Merck set up her own veterinary practice and spent years studying forensics.
Until recently, animal cruelty was categorized as a simple misdemeanor, not an indication of a perpetrator’s likelihood to commit other crimes. But research over the past few decades increasingly has backed Merck’s conviction. Back in 1986, a study in the International Journal of Law and Psychiatry found that almost half of rapists and a third of child molesters reported committing animal abuse during childhood or adolescence. In 2001, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention reviewed the existing research and determined that nearly two-thirds of inmates who commit crimes of aggression might also abuse animals.
More recently, a study by the Chicago Police Department “revealed a startling propensity for offenders charged with crimes against animals to commit other violent offenses toward human victims.” A survey of women in domestic-violence shelters indicated that 71 percent had partners who abused or threatened to abuse pets.
These studies don’t imply that all people who harm animals are hiding other crimes, nor do they suggest that a first-time animal abuser is destined for a future of malfeasance. Nevertheless, Merck takes the results to mean that abuse cases do deserve closer scrutiny than they’ve traditionally received from law enforcement. Animal abuse used to be lumped into an “All Other Offenses” category in the FBI’s National Incident-Based Reporting System, the database law enforcement uses to store and compare records on all serious offenses. But by 2015, after Merck and animal charities began lobbying, the initially skeptical agency started to look at animal cruelty as a tool for detecting or proving other crimes. Last January, the agency elevated animal cruelty to its own category in the system, to be tracked alongside crimes such as homicide and arson. (Data will be published later this year for the first time.)
Read the rest at the Atlantic link.
Yesterday the Washington Post reported that Trump is “chafing” under the rules imposed by Chief of Staff John Kelly.
Trump chafes at some of the retired Marine Corps general’s moves to restrict access to him since he took the job almost a month ago, said several people close to the president. They run counter to Trump’s love of spontaneity and brashness, prompting some Trump loyalists to derisively dub Kelly “the church lady” because they consider him strict and morally superior.
“He’s having a very hard time,” one friend who spoke with Trump this week said of the president. “He doesn’t like the way the media’s handling him. He doesn’t like how Kelly’s handling him. He’s turning on people that are very close to him.”Aides say Trump admires Kelly’s credentials, respects his leadership and management skills, and praises him often, both in private meetings and at public events. In a tax policy speech Wednesday in Missouri, Trump singled out Kelly’s work to decrease the number of illegal border crossings when he was secretary of homeland security.
Today The New York Times published their take on the Trump-Kelly conflicts: Forceful Chief of Staff Grates on Trump, and the Feeling Is Mutual.
President Trump was in an especially ornery mood after staff members gently suggested he refrain from injecting politics into day-to-day issues of governing after last month’s raucous rally in Arizona, and he responded by lashing out at the most senior aide in his presence.
It happened to be his new chief of staff, John F. Kelly.
Mr. Kelly, the former Marine general brought in five weeks ago as the successor to Reince Priebus, reacted calmly, but he later told other White House staff members that he had never been spoken to like that during 35 years of serving his country. In the future, he said, he would not abide such treatment, according to three people familiar with the exchange.
While Mr. Kelly has quickly brought some order to a disorganized and demoralized staff, he is fully aware of the president’s volcanic resentment about being managed, according to a dozen people close to Mr. Trump, and has treaded gingerly through the minefield of Mr. Trump’s psyche. But the president has still bridled at what he perceives as being told what to do.
Like every other new sheriff in town Mr. Trump has hired to turn things around at the White House or in his presidential campaign, Mr. Kelly has gradually diminished in his appeal to his restless boss. What is different this time is that Mr. Trump, mired in self-destructive controversies and record-low approval ratings, needs Mr. Kelly more than Mr. Kelly needs him. Unlike many of the men and women eager to work for Mr. Trump over the years, the new chief of staff signed on reluctantly, more out of a sense of duty than a need for affirmation, personal enrichment or fame.
Read more at the NYT.
One more on Kelly and the White House chaos from The Daily Beast: John Kelly Pushing Out Omarosa for ‘Triggering’ Trump.
The former Apprentice co-star—who currently serves as the communications director for the Office of Public Liaison—has seen her direct access to the president limited since Kelly took the top White House job in late July, sources tell The Daily Beast. In particular, Kelly has taken steps to prevent her and other senior staffers from getting unvetted news articles on the president’s Resolute desk—a key method for influencing the president’s thinking, and one that Manigualt used to rile up Trump about internal White House drama….
“When Gen. Kelly is talking about clamping down on access to the OTheseval, she’s patient zero,” a source close to the Trump administration said.
The stories Manigault would present to Trump, often on a phone or printed out, would often enrage the president, and resulted in him spending at least the rest of the day fuming about it. For example, one White House source noted that Manigault was one of the people who would bring to President Trump’s attention online articles concerning MSNBC hosts, and former Trump pals, Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski “slagging him, and his administration.”
These stories about the Trump White House mess would be funny if he weren’t capable of destroying our democracy and blowing up the world.
Hurricane Harvey News
Unfortunately for Hurricane Harvey victims, Trump is going back down to Texas today. Meanwhile, here are a couple of scary updates on what’s going on down there.
The Atlantic: Hurricane Harvey’s Public-Health Nightmare.
Every flood disaster is also a public-health disaster, and even as Harvey dissipates over the Gulf Coast, the beginnings of that secondary calamity were on display in the Houston area. During the worst of the flooding, hospitals faced critical shortages of food and medicine, people with serious chronic diseases had to make difficult decisions between evacuation and sheltering in place, and hundreds of victims faced prescription shortages and mental-health issues. And based on the health problems people in New Orleans and elsewhere in the region faced after Hurricane Katrina, experts expect major public-health emergencies, environmental illnesses, and outbreaks will only intensify in the aftermath of Harvey.
Those challenges are already taxing the city’s health infrastructure. According to Bill Gentry, a professor at the University of North Carolina School of Public Health and a former emergency management official, one key public-health issue that attends the early stages of any disaster is the set of risks facing people who are disabled or elderly and face special health needs. “With our push towards home health-care and taking care of more Americans in the home,” Gentry said, “it quickly turns into ‘can we get their home health-carte needs taken care of,’ with everything from oxygen to prescription meds to getting them clinical access, especially for dialysis. Those types of clinical worries compound as many days as the water stays up.”
Head over to The Atlantic to read the rest.
The Houston Chronicle: Arkema backtracks, refuses to provide chemical inventory to the public.
Arkema, the company that owns the chemical plant in Crosby on the verge of more explosions, is refusing to provide a chemical inventory and facility map to the public, one day after promising to provide the information.
Speaking to reporters this morning, Arkema CEO Richard Rowe said the company was balancing “the public’s right to know and the public’s right to be secure.”
Late Thursday night, the company provided a list, detailing the names of the chemicals on the site. It did not provide the amounts of the chemicals, where those chemicals were located or in what types of containers the chemicals were stored in.
It also refused to specify where even more potentially dangerous chemicals are located on site.
Melissa Wren, a company spokesperson, said the company was advised by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to refer all requests for the detailed chemical inventory, called a Tier Two, to the state agency.
“She’s mistaken,” said Andrea Morrow, spokesperson for TCEQ. “TCEQ has told Arkema they are free to release the Tier Two if they so choose.”
This is disgusting and dangerous.
I know I’ve barely touched the surface of what’s happening. What stories are you following?