The Santa Fe High School shooter killed his ex-girlfriend during Friday’s rampage. Considering reports that he intentionally left people who he liked unharmed, that fact should be a much more prominent part of the story than it is in this @nytimes article. https://t.co/EMzeoAsnj3
Sadie Baze says she keeps expecting her daughter to walk into the house, but Shana Fisher was killed Friday, one of 10 people gunned down at her high school.
“She’s never going to walk through the front door again,” Baze said.
Baze told CNN that the alleged shooter, Dimitrios Pagourtzis, had been making advances toward Shana, who just turned 16, for the past four months, asking her to date him.
A week ago, during class, Shana stood up and told Pagourtzis she wouldn’t go out with him, the mother said.
Baze said Pagourtzis previously dated Fisher’s best friend and she had told told her daughter “you don’t date your friend’s exes.”
See, you don’t date your friend’s exes and you wind up getting killed by them…it is devastating. Why is there always some type of domineering asshole male shit behind these violent murders.
The family of 17-year-old Pagourtzis, accused of killing 10 people and wounding 13 others at the Texas high school Friday, issued a statement expressing condolences to the victims.
The family members said they are “as shocked and confused as anyone by these events that occurred.”
Pagourtzis is a “smart, quiet, sweet boy,” they said.
The statement, issued through a law firm, says the family is cooperating with investigators and will make no other public comments until the fact-finding stage is completed.
“While we remain mostly in the dark about the specifics of yesterday’s tragedy, what we have learned from media reports seems incompatible with the boy we love,” they said.
Pagourtzis is being held without bail and is accused of capital murder of multiple people and aggravated assault on a public servant. He has not entered a plea.
Robert Barfield, the attorney for Pagourtzis, said his client is “not doing well” and is “confused.”
The suspect won’t face the death penalty if he is convicted. Under Texas law, offenders who are under age 18 and charged with a capital offense face a maximum punishment of life in prison with the possibility of parole after 40 years, according to Robert Dunham of the Death Penalty Information Center.
Your know what would be my kind of punishment? Pagourtzis getting his balls sliced off with a razor and have them handed to him in a Dixie Cup…let the fucker bleed for a long while.
He is not doing well? Tough shit. Confused? No…he knew what he was doing.
Yesterday, officials identified those killed as teachers Glenda Perkins and Cynthia Tisdale, and students Jared Black, Shana Fisher, Christian Riley Garcia, Aaron Kyle McLeod, Angelique Ramirez, Sabika Sheikh, Christopher Jake Stone and Kimberly Vaughan. Here is some information on the people who were killed:
The Pakistani Embassy in Washington, D.C., confirmed that exchange student Sabika Sheikh was killed in the shooting. Sabika was an exchange student with YES, which is funded by the U.S. State Department. It provides scholarships for secondary school students from countries with significant Muslim populations to spend one academic year in the U.S.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sent his “deepest condolences” to her friends and family in a statement Saturday.
“Sabika’s death and that of the other victims is heartbreaking and will be mourned deeply both here in the United States, and in Pakistan,” Pompeo said.
Shana Fisher’s aunt posted on Twitter that Shana was in the art room at the time of the shooting. She announced her death on Twitter.
The affidavit states that the 17-year-old told police that “he did not shoot students he did like so he could have his story told.”
Yup, he knew exactly what he was doing. And if an ex-girlfriend was on the victim list, or some girl who did not treat him with the kind of attention he felt was “owed” to him…it would only be appropriate to add Pagourtzis name to the list of mass murderers who killed because they felt their women victims were entitled to them.
American women are 16x more likely to be shot and killed than women in peer nations. Over 50 women are fatally shot each month by current or former intimate partners. Most mass shootings are caused by domestic violence.
Shana Fisher "had 4 months of problems from this boy," her mother, Sadie Rodriguez, wrote in a private message to the Los Angeles Times on Facebook. "He kept making advances on her and she repeatedly told him no." https://t.co/clHL0gO6zP
Gun control is extremely important but there're other reasons why these attacks keep happening. Male entitlement and toxic ideas about masculinity are key factors in most mass violence. As a society we’ve so far refused to seriously address either part of this ongoing calamity. pic.twitter.com/t0r3uIjRD5
Don't act like there's not an ideological connection between the men talking about "redistributing sex" because its owed to them and the young men shooting up their schools because a girl they are fixated on has rejected them.
By reading this NY Post article, it doesn’t seem to me that this “kid” had any confusion during the murdering part of his shooting spree…
“My friend Trent was in the classroom and said after [Pagourtzis] would shoot a student he would sing, ‘Another one bites the dust!’” Sante Fe High School sophomore Kole Dixon, 16, told The Post of a classmate, whose last name he asked not be printed.
“He also kept playing a kamikaze song over and over as loud as he could,” on his cellphone, Dixon said of the shooter.
Pagourtzis had the same kamikaze military anthem on his now-deleted YouTube page, Dixon said.
Pagourtzis had earlier bragged of wearing a “Rising Sun” insignia on his black trench coat, explaining it signified “Kamikaze Tactics,” according to a photo and text posted on his also-deleted Facebook page.
New details of the 17-year-old’s sick sense of humor went well beyond the previously reported “Born to Kill” T-shirt he wore, and his taunt of “Surprise!” as he blasted through the walls of an art class supply closet.
“They hear the gunman in the classroom next door yelling Woo Hoo! and firing more shots,” mom Deedra Van Ness said in a Facebook post Friday night, recounting details from her by her daughter Isabelle, who survived unscathed but was covered in blood.
“Surprise, motherf–ker!” the shooter hollered as he fired into the closet wall, instantly killing two of the half-dozen students who had barricaded themselves inside with Isabelle, Van Ness said her daughter told her.
“Are you dead?” he later asked from the other side of the closet.
“Do you think it’s for you?” he also joked, as cell phones left behind in the classroom rang unanswered.
No, John, it‘s a newspaper profile. An assassination attempt would be, I don’t know, a man mass-murdering people because Jordan Peterson told him he was right to be angry that hot women weren’t fucking him. https://t.co/BsBphC1cns
Recently, a young man named Alek Minassian drove through Toronto trying to kill people with his van. Ten were killed, and he has been charged with first-degree murder for their deaths, and with attempted murder for 16 people who were injured. Mr. Minassian declared himself to be part of a misogynist group whose members call themselves incels. The term is short for “involuntary celibates,” though the group has evolved into a male supremacist movement made up of people — some celibate, some not — who believe that women should be treated as sexual objects with few rights. Some believe in forced “sexual redistribution,” in which a governing body would intervene in women’s lives to force them into sexual relationships.
Violent attacks are what happens when men do not have partners, Mr. Peterson says, and society needs to work to make sure those men are married.
“He was angry at God because women were rejecting him,” Mr. Peterson says of the Toronto killer. “The cure for that is enforced monogamy. That’s actually why monogamy emerges.”
Mr. Peterson does not pause when he says this. Enforced monogamy is, to him, simply a rational solution. Otherwise women will all only go for the most high-status men, he explains, and that couldn’t make either gender happy in the end.
“Half the men fail,” he says, meaning that they don’t procreate. “And no one cares about the men who fail.”
I laugh, because it is absurd.
“You’re laughing about them,” he says, giving me a disappointed look. “That’s because you’re female.”
But aside from interventions that would redistribute sex, Mr. Peterson is staunchly against what he calls “equality of outcomes,” or efforts to equalize society. He usually calls them pathological or evil.
He agrees that this is inconsistent. But preventing hordes of single men from violence, he believes, is necessary for the stability of society. Enforced monogamy helps neutralize that.
In situations where there is too much mate choice, “a small percentage of the guys have hyper-access to women, and so they don’t form relationships with women,” he said. “And the women hate that.”
Emphasis is mine, of course, but read the whole article and tell me if it isn’t soft on this fucker.
(Take a look at the “Times Picks” comments…they are somewhat forgiving, and not from the feminist POV at all.)
INTERVIEWER: and what do you think is the problem with Marxism?
JORDAN PETERSON: the…the Little Mermaid uses seashells to cover her breasts. And of course, we land dwellers may find that to be a sexual display. But the reality of living under the sea does not allow for shirts.
Fucking Toxic Predatory Men… and their “enforced monogamy.”
I saw this tweet from Mona Eltahawy after I wrote my post above. I am glad I am not the only one who saw the connection.
On Friday, Jordan Peterson talked in a NYT profile about “enforced monogamy” to ensure that all men – not just some – are entitled to women. Same day in Texas: a teen killed 10 and wounded 10, including his ex-girlfriend, in a school shooting https://t.co/GNTEnDPX0K
He doesn't know the difference between HPV & HIV He doesn't know the difference between the debt & deficit He doesn't know the difference between climate & weather He doesn't know the difference between Frederick Douglass & ?? some other black guy who's alive He's a fucking moron
According to sovereign citizen pseudo-legal mythology, if the US flag displayed in a state or federal courtroom has fringe on it, then that court has no jurisdiction over you, so you can't be tried for any crime. pic.twitter.com/svIGRGvm3B
So take a look at that thread…it sounds familiar. I am sure that Dak or Boston Boomer may have brought it up back when the shooting/killing/slaughter occurred. If that is the case it is nothing new…but for those of us who have memories that last as long as a dog’s farts, or say a horse’s fart… it is a reminder. That these domineering men are also crazy assholes.
Let us feed them some black-eyed peas….yeah.
Mary Anne and Wanda were the best of friends
All through their high school days
Both members of the 4H club, both active in the FFA
Mary Anne went out lookin’ for a bright new world
Wanda looked all around this town and all she found was Earl
Well, it wasn’t two weeks after she got married that
Wanda started gettin’ abused
She’d put on dark glasses or long sleeved blouses
Or make-up to cover a bruise
Well she finally got the nerve to file for divorce
And she let the law take it from there
But Earl walked right through that restraining order
And put her in intensive care
Right away Mary Anne flew in from Atlanta
On a red eye midnight flight
She held Wanda’s hand as they worked out a plan
And it didn’t take ’em long to decide
That Earl had to die, goodbye Earl
Those black-eyed peas, they tasted alright to me, Earl
You’re feelin’ weak? Why don’t you lay down and sleep, Earl
Ain’t it dark wrapped up in that tarp, Earl
The cops came by to bring Earl in
They searched the house high and low
Then they tipped their hats and said, thank you ladies
If you hear from him let us know
Well, the weeks went by and spring turned to summer
And summer faded into fall
And it turns out he was a missing person who nobody missed at all
So the girls bought some land and a roadside stand
Out on highway 109
They sell Tennessee ham and strawberry jam
And they don’t lose any sleep at night, ’cause
Earl had to die, goodbye Earl
We need a break, let’s go out to the lake, Earl
We’ll pack a lunch, and stuff you in the trunk, Earl
Is that alright? Good! Let’s go for a ride, Earl, hey!
Ooh hey hey hey, ummm hey hey hey, hey hey hey
This is the most subversive #royalwedding I can think of. Outspoken biracial royal wife, black preacher talks of social justice, black choir sings gospel version of "Stand by Me". It's small, but it's stunning. Diana would surely be thrilled.
Subversive? Uh…I don’t know. It all seemed like a big fuck you from Harry to the Royals, if you asked me. I still feel the sermon was important, which is why I posted it here. There was a lot of talk about how culturally inclusive the Royal Wedding was, which I think this next tweet touches on perfectly.
People are talking about the racial symbolism of the #RoyalWedding and I can't help but think that here in America, black people are killed and harassed for praying in church, wearing hoodies, riding bikes, holding toys, walking, running, sitting in cars, meeting at Starbucks…
Another white shooter arrested alive after killing multiple ppl today? A black guy w/cellphone standing in his grandparents’ yard shot&killed after being shot at 20 times by cops looking for someone suspected of breaking into cars. Never forget #StephonClark#BlackLivesMatter
Florida mom gets a 20 yr sentence for firing a warning shot at a burglar after he'd broke into her home while it was just her & her children there. The same Florida system allowed George Zimmerman to walk free after he chased down and murdered Trayvon Martin. #IncarceratedMomsDaypic.twitter.com/NIz65wMPRD
Only when women & girls are safe & free from violence; can earn their own money; can have an equal voice in their family and community; & can decide if, & when, they get married or have children, will we be able to say that they have equality & justice. https://t.co/Vz2bcwZwRQ
I love that phrase…Empower Girls…Empower Women…Empower Daughters.
My friend Rachana Sunar over in Nepal has been working on building a Kindergarten for disadvantaged children and a center for mothers. With some funds from a Norway free church women’s group. They have a new building with five rooms…she sent me these pictures that I want to share with you:
This is what she says to me in her email:
Our vision is to empower young mothers who have married as a child brides. Our aim is to teach them life skills and vocational education, parenting skills and give them income opportunity.
So we have got 15 mothers for this year.
We meet them every Saturday to discuss in women righs.
They are so excited to learn.
Hope one day we can have you here taking some classes.
Rachana says the children have been selected with prior home visits, so they are “needy children.”
It is wonderful to see this program building from the ground up. I am working to send some donations her way…one day I would love to take a trip out there and visit. We communicate about once a week and it is extraordinary to have a connection with a woman who is strong and such a positive influence within her community.
That is all for me today, this is an open thread.
BTW, I know we have some non-toxic males who read this blog…and I gotta say…no black-eyed peas for you!
Did you like this post? Please share it with your friends:
….a baboon family that is…after the big head mama dropped dead, a huge ass fight ensued over which top banana would take over the dead queen’s throne.
Actually, the fight has been ongoing, this past year there have been vicious attacks among the powerful females within the group, causing injuries…pretty bad ones at that. They have even had to close the exhibit and re-arrange the back enclosure to include additional, “escape routes.”
See this article from Toronto about the ongoing war:
Medical records show numerous injuries among five of the six female olive baboons, from deep lacerations near their eyes to hair ripped out and tail injuries. At least two required surgeries to close deep gashes.
The exhibit was closed for several days because “there were some injuries that we thought best to keep them at the back because our visiting public don’t know baboon behaviour,” said Maria Franke, the curator of mammals at the zoo.
The baboon house — the area not open to the public where the animals eat and sleep — also had to be modified to allow for more space and additional escape routes, Franke said.
Chris Dutton, the zoo’s senior veterinarian, said the animals are fine and are “incredibly tough and they heal incredibly well.”
Now, Dutton said, two females sit on the throne in an uncomfortable truce, with the rightful heir biding her time until the older one dies.
Baboons, both in the wild and at zoos, have societies that are run by females — and that dominance runs through family lines. So the oldest daughter of the matriarch is the rightful heir to become queen.
That’s what happened to Betty, the longtime queen of the 12-member troop who took the reins when her mother, Boss Lady, died.
But troubles began a year ago when keepers noticed differences in Betty’s behaviour, Franke and Dutton said.
“She was changing her naturally dominant behaviour and she was hanging out with the subordinates and starting to slow down a little,” Dutton said.
The medical records, obtained via freedom-to-information legislation, note Betty was “reported to be lethargic, losing weight and not eating well.”
By early December, Betty stopped eating.
So Dutton and his staff anesthetized her to figure out what was going on. An exploratory surgery revealed a tumour in her uterus that had spread to the abdominal wall. It was terminal, Dutton said, so they euthanized her on the operating room table on Dec. 5, 2014. She was 16 years old.
That’s when the brawling began.
So, in Canada…they need the freedom of information act to get records on…Baboons.
But I got distracted.
Let’s get on with the fighting, back to when the shit hit the fan:
Molly is Betty’s oldest daughter and baboon society dictates the throne was hers. But she was young at six years old, and not fully mature.
So Putsie, who at 18 years old is the enclosure’s oldest female, saw an opportunity.
“She’s fighting to be dominant because of age, I guess,” Franke said.
It’s unclear exactly who inflicted which wounds on whom, as the attacks happened mostly at night and away from the keepers. But over the course of the following year, Putsie had only one minor injury, while the remaining five animals fared worse.
Molly and her sister, Susan, appeared to suffer the most attacks early on, according to the medical records.
Molly was attacked at least eight times over the course of three months. At one point, her left eye was swollen shut and she had deep lacerations above both eyes and a gash to the bone on her nose, the records show. Molly was anesthetized and one wound was stitched up.
By mid-month, Susan was attacked and suffered “severe lacerations” of the right side of her face that left the orbital bone exposed. The injury required surgery similar to Molly’s.
The eye itself wasn’t affected, the records say, “but the eye remains semi closed before and after suturing and cannot rule out muscle or nerve damage to peri-orbital structures.”
Three subordinate females, Kristina, Kate and Kalamata — all Putsie’s daughters — were also attacked. Kristina’s left eye was swollen shut after a fight, according to the medical records.
Kate had cuts on her face and several bites to her tail.
“Now all the aggression is occurring to the other animals, the least dominant, which is Kalamata,” Franke said.
Damn, the shit is getting real!!! Poor Kalamata is the one who is weakest, and of course, the one they are ganging up on.
“Most of the hair on top of her head has been ripped out,” the medical notes read. “This individual has been attacked multiple times within the last two months.”
She was attacked again this past October, Dutton said, when one baboon bit her tail.
Dutton and Franke only intervened when a baboon needed medical treatment. They were loathe to interrupt the baboon’s own game of thrones.
“You have to let their natural behaviour happen,” Franke said. “They have to sort it out. In the wild, a lot of times it’s to the death.”
She added a baboon has never been killed by another baboon at the Toronto Zoo.
Well, thank the gawds for that!
A veterinary note that was attached to several baboons’ medical files suggests various interventions, including modifying the enclosure to add outdoor heaters and shelters so that the animals can have outdoor access at night without freezing.
The note also suggests looking into medical options for regulating aggressive behaviour.
Hmm, I bet you are wondering about pills right? Dope them up, eh?
As for medical intervention, Dutton said: “We don’t particularly want our animals on some form of mood-altering drugs of any kind because we don’t think that’s appropriate.”
I guess the Scientologist are pleased with that diagnosis.
Earlier this week, the baboons lounged in the sun grooming each other and lazing around. Kalamata lay on a rock, a portion of her tail scabbed over.
Now, the name of the male in this next and last nugget of the piece made me laugh like hell….
The only drama came when one male made a sexual play for a female.
Bwana Joe, the oldest and largest male, took offence and chased several baboons up the rock wall — but eventually succeeded in wooing one of the females himself.
I think we have a new nickname for Joe Biden…don’t you?
Today’s post is full of links, to a variety of stories. I am purposely not touching on the Planned Parenthood shooting, and the disgusting remarks from the fuckers on the GOP side. I can’t deal with it now, it will get me too upset.
My mind is in another place. Last night I read this headline, Unemployed Florida man tries shocking father to death – NY Daily News. You want to know what my first thought was? The guy coming out behind a bush or something and yelling boo! Seriously. I thought of that werewolf scene from High Anxiety:
It never occurred to me that “shocked” meant…shocked, as in electrocuted.
After finding out he would get his father’s entire inheritance, an unemployed Florida man tried electrocuting his dad.
John Knudsen, 44, had a shocking ploy to take his 81-year-old father’s money — by killing him and reaping the inheritance. The Ormond Beach son learned that he would be the sole beneficiary of his father’s will, and pulled his charged stunt on Thanksgiving morning, according to reports.
With that in mind, here are your links for this Wednesday:
Black lives matter is in the news again. I was trying to explain to my parents the point behind #BlackLivesMatter on why they are not bringing up the black on black crime**…especially the most recent violence that we have seen in the news in New Orleans and the assassination of the 9 year old boy in Chicago (a supposed gang leader’s son). The point being that BLM is for the cause of certain specific things, i.e…..this:
Chicago’s police chief was ousted on Tuesday after days of protest over a white officer’s shooting of a black teenager 16 times and the department’s refusal to release a video of the killing for more than a year.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced during a news conference that he had asked Garry McCarthy, police superintendent since May 2011, to resign. Emanuel also said he was creating a new police accountability task force.
The white officer, Jason Van Dyke, was charged a week ago with first-degree murder in the 2014 killing of Laquan McDonald. The video, from a patrol car’s dashboard camera, was released on the same day.
High-profile killings of black men at the hands of mainly white law enforcement officers in U.S. cities have fueled demonstrations for some two years, stoking a national debate on race relations and police tactics.
The Illinois attorney general called for a federal civil rights investigation into the Chicago Police Department on Tuesday, hours after Mayor Rahm Emanuel fired the superintendent for his handling of an officer’s killing of a black teenager.
Attorney General Lisa Madigan sent what she characterized as an urgent request to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, asking that the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division investigate Chicago police use of deadly force and the department’s internal review process, and determine whether there is a “pattern of discriminatory policing.”
“Trust in the Chicago Police Department is broken, especially in communities of color in the City of Chicago,” Madigan wrote.
“An investigation into whether there are patterns and practices of civil rights violations by CPD is vital to bringing about the systemic change that is necessary here,” Madigan continued. “Chicago cannot move ahead without an outside, independent investigation into its police department that moves toward improved policing practices and increasing trust between the police and the community.”
Nearly an hour and a half of surveillance footage from the night of Laquan McDonald’s death is missing from the security system at a Chicago Burger King near the scene of the black teen’s alleged murder, and new evidence obtained by NBC Chicago suggests police may have been the last ones to view it.
Jay Darshane, district manager for the Burger King at Pulaski Road and 41st Street, told NBC Chicago in May that his cameras were fully operational when police came in on Oct. 20, 2014, the night of the shooting. While he wasn’t at the restaurant at the time, he said he authorized the manager on duty to give the officers access to the footage. He suggested that the video wouldn’t show the fatal 16 shots, but it might contain details about what happened directly before and after officer Jason Van Dyke killed McDonald.
The next day, however, Darshane discovered an 86-minute gap in the footage, from 9:13 p.m. to 10:39 p.m. Prosecutors say Van Dyke fired the first of 16 rounds at 9:57. Darshane — who testified about the missing video before a federal grand jury earlier this year, according to the Chicago Tribune — said he believes police deleted the key footage. But local law enforcement officials say they haven’t found evidence that the security system was tampered with.
Now NBC Chicago has revealed the two screen grabs below, which appear to show at least one officer reviewing security recordings at Burger King on the night of McDonald’s death.
Be sure to go to the links to those articles to read the rest of the stories. Especially the last one on the missing 86 minutes of tap, and the footage of officers reviewing the film at the Burger King. I think that could be huge…in a holy shit sort of way.
In an interview with NPR last week, Chicago attorney Craig Futterman said he’d seen footage similar to the screen grabs obtained by NBC. He accused the police of erasing the key minutes.
“The officer went into the Burger King, and he erased all seven of those files,” said Futterman, who aggressively lobbied for the release of a related video taken by the police dashcam. “The irony is, though, that the Burger King surveillance video was running while the officer erased them. And so there’s a videotape of the officer erasing the video.”
The grainy images don’t show exactly what officers are doing or for how long, but Darshane recently told the Tribune that police had come with their own information technology specialist and hung around the restaurant until about midnight. He also claimed that officers were having a difficult time operating the security system.
At a press conference last week, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez described the matter of the mysterious gap as closed. She said “forensic testing” had revealed no tampering, but refused to answer any further questions.
Also at the press conference, Garry McCarthy, then superintendent of Chicago’s police force, called allegations that his officers had altered the footage “absolutely untrue.” The missing video was the result of “technical difficulties,” he said.
Anyway, I tried to explain to my parents that the Black Lives Matter is focused on law enforcement and/or that kind of authority figures who many times get away with murder.
(I myself don’t understand the reason behind the BLM protesters attacking Hillary, when they should go after the assholes who don’t give a damn…like the GOP dickheads. But maybe someone can explain it to me?)
He says we “can’t ignore that we are killing ourselves, too.”
Spike Lee isn’t afraid to make people angry with his opinionated points of view, and he doesn’t disappoint when it comes to sharing his views on Black Lives Matter. The director, whose controversial film Chi-Raqhits theaters on December 4, tells CNN’s Anderson Cooper that he supports the movement, but that attention should also be paid to Black-on-Black crime.
“We cannot be out there” protesting police violence “and then when it comes to young brothers killing themselves, then mum’s the word. No one’s saying nothing? It’s got to be both ends,” Lee said, adding that he’s “all for Black Lives Matter,” but “we as a people can’t be blind” to Black-on-Black crime.
Lee said Black Lives Matter should focus on police brutality, “but you can’t ignore that we are killing ourselves, too. We can’t ignore that.”
Unsurprisingly, conservative blogs are picking up on Lee’s comments and using them to tout their own agendas, which will anger many who support the #BLM movement, but seeing that Spike has been immersed in the world of Chicago gun violence for at least the past year, his views are not that surprising.
Oh, and those asses at the GOP really do use these words to their own advantage…just two words for you on that. Richard Sherman.
More Americans had their backgrounds checked purchasing guns on Black Friday than any day in the on record, according to data released by the FBI this week.
The National Instant Criminal Background Check System processed 185,345 requests on Nov. 27, one of the largest retail sales days in the country.
“This was an approximate 5% increase over the 175,754 received on Black Friday 2014,” wrote Stephen Fischer, the FBI’s chief of multimedia productions. “The previous high for receipts were the 177,170 received on 12/21/2012.”
Previous spikes for background checks, conducted before a gun buyer can obtain a firearm, occurred after prominent mass shootings, like in December 2012 in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
Other Black Friday shopping days in 2014, 2013 and 2012 occupied the FBI’s “top 10” list of the most background checks processed in a 24-hour period.
Since 1998, FBI data shows that the bureau has processed requests for more than 220 million firearm purchases.
I still think they need to regulate bullets. Like they do cough syrup…and Sudafed.
If there is a system in place to give over your license and sign in for OTC medicines like Sudafed, then by all means, make people accountable for the bullets they are buying. Fucking hell!
An Iowa state senator running for U.S. Congress is getting blasted by both his Republican Party and Democrats after saying that immigrant felons who try to re-enter America illegally should be executed.
State Sen. Mark Chelgren’s controversial comments were published Monday by the Journal Express of Knoxville and Marion County, which presented his views on border security and immigration. The newspaper said the two-term state legislator believes in a fence to help protect the nation’s borders, and that if an undocumented person who committed a felony is deported and then tries to return to the U.S., he or she should be subject to capital punishment.
Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf, with critical notes by scholars, is to be published in Germany next month – for the first time since the end of WW2.
The Institute of Contemporary History (IfZ) in Munich says it will print up to 4,000 copies with some 3,500 notes.
IfZ director Andreas Wirsching says the text with expert comments will “shatter the myth” surrounding the manifesto.
But the move has been criticised by Jewish groups, who argue that Nazi works should never be republished.
I am concerned and don’t know how to feel about this. I think they should not publish it, but then free speech and all…I don’t know. With all this refugee stuff going on, and the anti-immigrant/migrant stance in Europe and here too…it could be dangerous.
“Last I checked, we don’t have a rubber shortage in America,” Cruz said in a campaign stop in Iowa. “Look, when I was in college, we had a machine in the bathroom, you put 50 cents in and voila. So yes, anyone who wants contraceptives can access them, but it’s an utterly made-up nonsense issue.”
Sadly for Cruz — and more pressingly, for women throughout the United States — that assessment is nothing short of absurd. The Supreme Court has ruled that some owners of private companies can deny birth control coverage because of religious beliefs. House Republicans have targeted family planning providers who provide health services to women, including pregnancy prevention. And Republicans have threatened to defund Planned Parenthood, which provides millions of women with contraception.
Because it unfortunately still needs to be said, for the 190,567th time, birth control is anessential part of women’s health care, and it is critical that women have access to a range of options. Sorry, Cruz, but the condoms you seem to think are readily available for 50 cents in every bathroom just won’t cut it. Here are just six reasons why:
I have read the most horrifying stories this week. It makes me wonder if a good portion of humanity has a death wish. I’m going to share a variety of links that I’ve found; and a lot of them aren’t the most uplifting, I’m afraid.
Knowledge is power. Ignorance may be bliss to the holder but not to the folks around them. There is no lack of headlines in the area of bigotry and intolerance. This is truly discouraging to those of us that care passionately about social justice.
While crime rates have fallen 45 percent since 1990, the memo said that the incarceration rate is now at a “historically unprecedented level,” jumping 222 percent between 1980 and 2012. An African-American man who never graduated from high school has a 70 percent likelihood of being imprisoned by his mid-30s; for similarly educated white men, the rate is about 15 percent. And the United States imprisons at a rate six times greater than most peer nations, including those of the European Union, Japan, Israel, and Mexico.
The U.S. Department of Justice announced rules last month that would give the Obama administration wider latitude to extend clemency or reduce sentences for drug-related prisoners who don’t present a threat to public safety. In addition, the U.S. Sentencing Commission voted unanimously in April to reduce sentencing guidelines for certain nonviolent criminals, a move now before Congress that could go into effect Nov. 1 if lawmakers don’t take any further action.
Ronald S. Sullivan Jr. is a clinical professor of law and director of the Criminal Justice Institute at Harvard Law School. The program focuses on criminal practice, education, and research, and hosts a teaching clinic for third-year law students to represent indigent criminal defendants in local and juvenile courts. Sullivan spoke with the Gazette about racial and national sentencing disparities, the economic and social costs of mass incarceration, and the sentencing reforms now under consideration.
GAZETTE: According to the memo, while the overall crime rate fell 45 percent between 1990 and 2012, the rate of imprisonment has spiked 222 percent between 1980 and 2012. What’s behind this disparity? Is that strictly the result of policy decisions like mandatory minimum sentencing, repeat-offender laws, and the growth in for-profit prisons? Or are other factors at work?
SULLIVAN: That’s certainly a big piece of it. … policy decisions in respect of mandatory minimums drive the huge incarceration rate. But there are other factors as well. What those factors are is the subject of a lot of academic debate nowadays. And to be honest, we’re not exactly sure what it is. We do know that on a per-capita basis the U.S. incarcerates more people than any country in the world, including Rwanda, Russia, Cuba, all of the places one does not associate with a robust tradition of liberty. And that’s in many ways shocking.
The theory would be … with the high rates of incarceration that the crime rate would go down and then that would be followed by less incarceration because there just wouldn’t be as many crimes committed. But those numbers have gone in opposite directions. Mandatory minimums simply don’t explain all of it. Part of it, at least I think, has to do with selective law enforcement — the over-policing of certain neighborhoods, particularly minority neighborhoods and poor neighborhoods. That is to say, if police are there and looking for crimes, and over-police certain neighborhoods, you’re going to produce more defendants in particular areas. And if the populations are drawn from poor populations, they’re unable to afford to be released on bail, they’re unable to afford good lawyers, and studies show that if you’re not released on bail you tend to stay in jail after sentencing. An unfortunate reality of the United States is that far too often the justice you receive is a function of how much money you have.
The prison-industrial complex is also an important factor. It doesn’t take an economist to know that if … you make your money by people going into prison, then there’s going to be higher incarceration rates. So I think that certainly plays a role as well.
GAZETTE: What are the areas of debate among scholars?
SULLIVAN: One explanation has to do with the United States’ articulated goals of punishment. Back in the ’70s and before, rehabilitation was an articulated goal of the criminal justice system. The Supreme Court has said clearly now rehabilitation is no longer a penological goal. We look at incapacitation, we look at deterrence, and we look at retribution as goals that the penal system serves. When you take rehabilitation out of the mix, then that de-incentivizes the system from having shorter sentences because there’s no longer an affirmative goal of reintegrating people meaningfully back into the community. That’s one of the things that scholars argue drive up the incarceration rate.
The other has to do with our system of elected judges in most states. Judges who are elected, the argument runs, respond to democratic pressures. We live in a political economy where people think that more and harsher punishment is better, even though most competent data suggests that longer sentences, after a certain point … make people worse as opposed to making them better. But you have democratically elected judges who respond to the will of the people, and if that will is for longer sentences, no matter how misinformed, then judges oftentimes acquiesce to those pressures.
The other issue has to do with legislators. It, again, has to do with the political economy in which we live. With this mantra of being “tough on crime,” legislators essentially race to see who can draft legislation with the harshest, longest penalties. I think that legislators don’t believe that prosecutors will attempt to enforce the most harsh provisions of particular laws, and in that sense, from the vantage point of the legislator, it’s sort of a win-win situation: They can get the political credit for drafting an incredibly harsh law, but not really have to deal with the effects because the notion is the prosecutor will sort it out and will recommend a fair sentence. That assumption, though, just hasn’t really been borne out in reality.
GAZETTE: The current incarceration gap between white men and African-American men is particularly striking. Does that figure surprise you, and what accounts for this gap? Is access to justice a factor?
SULLIVAN: The figure does not surprise me, and it is unfortunate that the figure does not surprise me. The figure reaffirms that race insinuates itself into almost every aspect of our life still, and it has a particular salience in the criminal justice system. … Here we see the effect of over-policing much more dramatically. In our culture, unfortunately … blackness is seen as a proxy for criminality. So the same or similar conduct engaged in by a person of color is seen through a lens that views that conduct as criminal, where others simply are not taxed in the same way.
The growing secrecy adopted by death penalty states to hide the source of their lethal injection drugs used in executions is being challenged in a new lawsuit in Missouri, which argues that the American people have a right to know how the ultimate punishment is being carried out in their name.
The legal challenge, brought by the Guardian, Associated Press and the three largest Missouri newspapers, calls on state judges to intervene to put a stop to the creeping secrecy that has taken hold in the state in common with many other death penalty jurisdictions. The lawsuit argues that under the first amendment of the US constitution the public has a right of access to know “the type, quality and source of drugs used by a state to execute an individual in the name of the people”.
It is believed to be the first time that the first amendment right of access has been used to challenge secrecy in the application of the death penalty. Deborah Denno, an expert in execution methods at Fordham University law school in New York, said that more and more states were turning to secrecy as a way of hiding basic flaws in their procedures.
“If states were doing things properly they wouldn’t have a problem releasing information – they are imposing a veil of secrecy to hide incompetence.” “This is like the government building bridges, and trying to hide the identity of the company that makes the bolts,” said Richard Dieter of the Death Penalty Information Center. “Those involved in public service should expect public scrutiny in order to root out problems, particular when the state is carrying out the most intimate act possible – killing people.”
A Guardian survey has identified at least 13 states that have changed their rules to withhold from the public all information relating to how they get hold of lethal drugs. They include several of the most active death penalty statesincluding Texas, which has executed seven prisoners so far this year, Florida (five), Missouri (four) and Oklahoma (three). Attention has been drawn to the secrecy issue by the botched execution of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma on 29 April in which the prisoner took 43 minutes to die, apparently in great pain, from an untested cocktail of drugs whose source was not made public.
Lockett’s lawyers had argued in advance that he might be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment as a result of the lack of information surrounding the drugs, but the state supreme court allowed the procedure to go ahead having come under intense pressure from local politicians, some of whom threatened to impeach judges.
In the wake of the events in Oklahoma, in which the prisoner writhed and groaned over a prolonged period, the state has agreed to pause for six months before carrying out any further judicial killings to give time for an internal investigation to be completed. President Obama described the Lockett execution “deeply troubling” and has asked US attorney general Eric Holder to review the way the death penalty is conducted.
Until last year, Missouri which is now executing prisoners at a rate of one a month, was open about where it obtained its lethal injection chemicals. But like many death penalty states, its drug supplies have dwindled as a result of a European-led pharmaceutical boycott, and in a desperate move to try to find new suppliers it has shrouded their identity in secrecy. In October, the state changed its so-called “black hood law” that had historically been used to guard the identity of those directly involved in the death process.
The department of corrections expanded the definition of its execution team to include pharmacies and “individuals who prescribe, compound, prepare, or otherwise supply the chemicals for use in the lethal injection procedure”. Six inmates have been executed by Missouri since the new secrecy rules came in –they went to their deaths entirely ignorant of the source or quality of the drugs used to kill them. All that is known is that the pentobarbital that Missouri deploys in executions probably came from a compounding pharmacy – an outlet that makes up small batches of the drug to order in the absence of stringent regulation.
While Religious Right leaders are quick to equate criticism as an attack on their freedom of speech and religion, some of them are all too happy to limit the free speech or religious liberty of the people they disagree with. That includes the Benham brothers.
In the flurry of public appearances in the wake of the HGTV cancellation, the Benhams and their right-wing fans have portrayed themselves as committed to the principle that everyone in America should have a chance to express themselves. On the O’Reilly Factor, David Benham denounced the gay agenda for seeking “to silence those that disagree with it, and it begins with Christians.” Jason warned that “when an idea seeks to silence any other idea that may disagree with that, then we have ourselves a problem on hand.”
But as blogger Jeremy Hooper recently pointed out, back in November 2004, David, Jason, and Flip Benham were all part of a group of about 15 people who went to a Charlotte, North Carolina city council meeting to complain about the gay pride celebration that had taken place in a city park six months earlier. They were among a group of people who had gone to the Pride event to, in Jason’s words, “tell them that Jesus loves you just the way you are, but he refuses to leave you that way.” But the Benhams and their friends were appalled at what they saw. “This is filth, this is vile and should not be allowed in our City,” said David. Jason urged city council members to reject future permits for Pride celebrations – and seemingly for any LGBT-themed event:
They have a right to apply for this permit, but you have a right and responsibility to deny it. I [implore] you not to be governed by the fear in which you feel. If you deny them this permit you will open a can of worms but you in your leadership position have to take that responsibility and you have to not allow the fear of making this homosexual community mad. You have to accept that responsibility and deny them every permit that they ask for.
Some Benham fans, like the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer, say flat-out that the First Amendment’s religious liberty protections were only meant for Christians and don’t apply to Muslims, Mormons or other minority faiths. Back when many self-proclaimed “religious liberty” advocates were opposing efforts by Muslims in New York to build a community center – which critics gave the inaccurate and inflammatory name of “Ground Zero Mosque” – David Benham and his father Flip were among them. According to the Anti-Defamation League, David participated in protests against the Center, calling it a “den of iniquity” and labeling Muslims “the enemy” that was attacking America.
In these public debates, “Christian” as used by Religious Right leaders often doesn’t really apply to all Christians, but only to a subset of Christians who share their right-wing politics. Other Christians don’t count. The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins, who has bemoaned “cultural elites” who want to “silence” and “bully” people like the Benhams, recently said that pro-gay-equality Christians don’t deserve the same legal protections as he does because “true religious freedom” applies only to those with religious views that align with those of the political Right.
Gov. Bobby Jindal’s commencement speech at Liberty University was a masterpiece in this type of dishonest projection. Posing as a champion of free speech and freedom of religion, he actually made a chilling argument in favor of stripping both of those freedoms away from ordinary Americans, businesses and anyone who might disagree with turning this country into a theocratic state. He started by defending Hobby Lobby for trying to strip contraception coverage out of their employees’ own healthcare plans. “Under the Obama regime,” he argued, “you have protection under the First Amendment as an individual, but the instant you start a business, you lose those protections. And that brings us to the second front in this silent war: the attack on our freedom of association as people of faith.”
But Jindal was just warming up, claiming the “Obama administration” was gunning to decide “who can preach the Gospel.” This outrageous conspiracy theory was justified, in his opinion, by supposed other attacks on “free speech,” namely that TV networks are reluctant to house the opinions of open bigots. “The left no longer wants to debate. They simply want to silence us,” he said of Phil Robertson from Duck Dynasty, who was never silenced and has, to this date, been allowed to say any fool thing he wants. But he was briefly suspended from A&E, leading conservatives to decide that “free speech” means you have a right to your own TV show.
White supremacy is referenced in relation to specific news events as well. For example, the murder rampage by the neo-Nazi Frazier Glenn Miller, the recent weeks-long debate between pundits Ta-Nehisi Coates and Jonathan Chait about “black pathology”; birtherism; stand-your-ground laws; and the open embrace of the symbols and rhetoric of the old slave-holding Confederacy by the Republican Party have been framed and discussed in terms of white supremacy.
Conservatives and progressive often use the phrase “white supremacy” in divergent ways. Conservatives use the phrase in the service of a dishonest “colorblind” agenda, evoking extreme images of KKK members and Nazis as the exclusive and only examples of white racism in American life and politics. Conservatives use extreme caricatures of white supremacy in order to deflect and protect themselves from charges that the contemporary Republican Party is a white identity organization fueled by white racial resentment. Liberals, progressives and anti-racists use the phrase “white supremacy” to describe the overt and subtle racist practices of movement conservatism in the post-Civil Rights era, and how American society is still structured around maintaining and protecting white privilege. This analysis is largely correct: however, it often conflates concepts such as racism, white privilege, and white supremacy with one another. Language does political work. In the age of Obama, the phrase “white supremacy” is often used in political discussions like an imprecise shotgun blast or a blockbuster bomb. If the Common Good and American democracy are to be protected—countering how the right wing has used the politics of white racial resentment, racial manipulation, and hate to mobilize its voters in support of a plutocratic agenda—a more precise weapon is needed. A necessary first step in that direction requires the development of a more detailed and transparent exploration of the concept known as “white supremacy.”
Each week seems to bring another incident. Last week it was David and Jason Benham, whose pending HGTV show was canceled after the mob unearthed old remarks the brothers made about their Christian beliefs on homosexuality. People can’t have a house-flipping show unless they believe and say the “right” things in their life off the set? In this world, the conservative Tom Selleck never would have been Magnum, P.I.
This week, a trail-blazing woman was felled in the new tradition of commencement shaming. International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde withdrew from delivering the commencement speech at Smith College following protests from students and faculty who hate the IMF. According to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, this trend is growing. In the 21 years leading up to 2009, there were 21 incidents of an invited guest not speaking because of protests. Yet, in the past five-and-a-half years, there have been 39 cancellations.
Don’t bother trying to make sense of what beliefs are permitted and which ones will get you strung up in the town square. Our ideological overlords have created a minefield of inconsistency. While criticizing Islam is intolerant, insulting Christianity is sport. Ayaan Hirsi Ali is persona non grata at Brandeis University for attacking the prophet Mohammed. But Richard Dawkins describes the Old Testament God as “a misogynistic … sadomasochistic … malevolent bully” and the mob yawns. Bill Maher calls the same God a “psychotic mass murderer” and there are no boycott demands of the high-profile liberals who traffic his HBO show.
The self-serving capriciousness is crazy. In March, University of California-Santa Barbara women’s studies professor Mireille Miller-Young attacked a 16-year-old holding an anti-abortion sign in the campus’ “free speech zone” (formerly known as America). Though she was charged with theft, battery and vandalism, Miller-Young remains unrepentant and still has her job. But Mozilla’s Brendan Eich gave a private donation to an anti-gay marriage initiative six years ago and was ordered to recant his beliefs. When he wouldn’t, he was forced to resign from the company he helped found.
Got that? A college educator with the right opinions can attack a high school student and keep her job. A corporate executive with the wrong opinions loses his for making a campaign donation. Something is very wrong here.
The right seems to be really confused about the first amendment, which clearly deals with the relationship between the federal government, religion, the press, and the people’s free speech. The same idiots that scream that Hobby Lobby can deny its employees contraception and say that businesses should be able to refuse to serve GLBTs will shout out a corporation that says they don’t want to be known for bigotry of any kind. They also misunderstand the protection given to University professors when it comes to academic freedom. Companies have to comply with the law. They do not have to keep employees that don’t represent their corporate values. PERIOD.
Anyway, it just amazes me that this intense amount of uncivil bigotry and hatred seemed to have burbled up again after all these years. All it took was an African American President and a few powerful women–namely Hillary Clinton–to bring the crazy out.
Can you feel it? A Minkoff rant coming to ya? Yeah, it is…so just roll with it, you may find this post all over the place. But then y’all know how I get when this happens so, I will just get on with it.
First off, this shit with the Supreme Court and public prayer at town meetings. You know…what the fuck happened to a moment of silence? Do they still do that? I mean if you are going to take time out to pray a little, do it to yourself on the quiet…if you want to…because this shit SCOTUS just ruled on gives the Christian right to fuck over anyone who isn’t born again. By that I mean you too Catholics! Which is something I think those who do vote “Republican” and are Catholic seem to fail to grasp.
You see them, especially here in small towns like Banjoville. They are high and mighty evil bastards who feel above you and actually discriminate against those who are not “born again.” That means those of the Catholic, Anglican/Episcopal faith…Jews, Buddhist, Muslims, oh you all know what I am talking about.
They will say the most horrible things to kids too…shit that is beyond fucked up! And…they teach their children to behave just like them. It is an endless cycle of disgusting behavior in the name of Jesus. (Excuse me…Geeezus.)
All this shit about prayer in schools, is not for any other prayer but theirs.
It is only their religious freedom they are concerned with.
It is only their “God” or “Gawd” they consider real and therefore legitimate.
So many conservatives who are not in line with the “christian” way of believing do not get this…they don’t realize that these assholes are not really speaking for them. They vote for these bastards because they only see them as the politician who spouts on about praying in school, and other conservative value shit…but they don’t see the big picture behind it.
And why am I picking on these Jesus freaks? Because these are also the people who are the hypocritical bastards, and act the least charitable. They are hateful motherfuckers and prejudice and judgmental too. They say horrible things with an air of snotty intolerant Baptist superiority. (This is from my experience here in the Southern bible belt.) Both men and women are misogynistic as hell, the women are not supportive of other women within their circle and the girls are awful to other girls who are, “not one of them.” They take any reason and twist it, manipulate it into a reason for Geezus. It is unbelievable the way they can justify their behavior…I don’t know how they can do it and consider themselves “good Christians.”
This is the backbone of the GOP, the conservatives who are changing the laws in this nation bit by bit. The assholes that are cutting out all social programs and any hope for a future in areas of science and discovery. I can honestly say these people are ruining this country. Maybe that is taking it too far, I don’t know. But what the fuck is wrong with these people?
I am afraid, really I am.
I see what a small town mentality is like and I see it is taking over our Supreme Court. It has taken over our House of Representatives and it damn well can take over the Senate.
Gawd help us…what the hell are we going to do?
Here then are the links for today, there are a lot of them so some are in link dump fashion.
First a group of stories illustrating some of the talking points above.
House Republicans have unveiled their version of the transportation, housing and urban development (THUD) appropriations bill and, not surprisingly, it cuts funding by nearly $2 billion.
The bill cuts TIGER grants, a favorite of many lawmakers, by $500 million to a total of $100 million. It does not allow funds for bike and pedestrian paths.
The FAA is funded at $7.3 million below the fiscal year 2014 enacted level and the Federal Railroad Administration is funded at $1.4 billion, a reduction of $193 million. There is no funding for high speed rail, an Obama priority.
To cut costs, Amtrak would be required to put overtime limits on employees and not use federal funding for routes where Amtrak offers a discount of 50 percent or more peak fares.
All together, the House bill would set spending at a level nearly $8 billion less than what President Obama requested for the next fiscal year.
Opposition to the president’s request isn’t earth shattering news, but House Republicans going out their way to eliminating funding for bike paths and railway while instituting overtime limits for Amtrak employees is certainly illuminating.
Republicans have a big problem with pedestrian-friendly urban and mass transportation. You know, hallmarks of socialism; liberal stuff.
The Obama administration and the scientific community at large are expressing serious alarm at a House Republican bill that they argue would dramatically undermine way research is conducted in America.
Titled the “Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science, and Technology (FIRST) Act of 2014,” the bill would put a variety of new restrictions on how funds are doled out by the National Science Foundation. The goal, per its Republican supporters on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, would be to weed out projects whose cost can’t be justified or whose sociological purpose is not apparent.
For Democrats and advocates, however, the FIRST Act represents a dangerous injection of politics into science and a direct assault on the much-cherished peer-review process by which grants are awarded.
“We have a system of peer-review science that has served as a model for not only research in this country but in others,” said Bill Andresen, the associate vice president of Federal Affairs at the University of Pennsylvania. “The question is, does Congress really think it has the better ability to determine the scientific merit of grant applications or should it be left up to the scientists and their peers?”
In recent weeks, the Obama administration and science agencies have — in less-than-subtle terms — offered up similar criticisms of the FIRST Act. At an American Association for the Advancement of Science forum on Thursday, presidential science adviser John Holdren said he was “concerned with a number of aspects” of the bill.
“It appears aimed at narrowing the focus of NSF-funded research to domains that are applied to various national interests other than simply advancing the progress of science,” Holdren said.
Meanwhile, in a show of protest that several officials in the science advocacy community could not recall having witnessed before, the National Science Board released a statement in late April criticizing the bill. As the oversight body to the National Science Foundation, the NSB traditionally stays out of legislative fights. So when it warned that the FIRST Act could “significantly impede NSF’s flexibility to deploy its funds to support the best ideas,” advocates said they were surprised and pleased.
“The fact that the NSB commented on legislation, I don’t know if it is unprecedented but it is at least extremely unusual,” said Barry Toiv, a top official at the Association of American Universities. “And we think that speaks to the really serious problems posed by the legislation.”
Despite all the pissing and money about the district wasting money on outrageous teacher salaries and pensions, seems the real problem is the Santa Claus provision our Republican-dominated legislature ticked away into state law. This is, of course, contrary to the right-wing wisdom shared on our local newspaper site, but oh well! Nobody cares about schools, anyway:
Unless the Philadelphia School District raises more than $200 million extra in a hurry, Moody’s Investors Service warned it will cut the district’s bond rating — which is already down at Ba2, junk status, forcing the district to pay extra when it borrows money — because the district’s proposed $2.5 billion budget for the next fiscal year will “materially imperil its ability to provide students with an adequate education.”
Without $216 million in additional funding, Moody’s analyst Dan Seymour wrote in a report to clients, the district threatens to increase the average class size to 41 students and lay off more than 1,000 staff. ” This is credit negative because a further deterioration in education services will likely result in additional student flight to charter schools and other alternatives,” further reducing district revenues, Seymour added. 3 in 10 Philadelphia students already go to charter schools.
“Rising charter school enrollments have been a drag on the district’s finances, as state law mandates that public school districts pay the costs of sending students to charter schools. Driven largely by charter school tuition costs, the district’s costs per pupil have increased 70% since 2004. Further enrollment declines would exacerbate the district’s financial pressure as charter schools capture a larger share of the district’s expenditures,” Moody’s adds.
In Kansas, Republicans dominate the state government. They have the Governorship (Former Senator Sam Brownback), the State House (92-33 for the GOP), and the State Senate (32-8 for the GOP). Democrats don’t have a say in this blood red state that went 60%-37% for Mitt Romney in 2012.
Brownback and his buddies have enacted all manner of conservative economic policy in the state. Cutting taxes, etcetera. What is the result? Guess.
Citing a sluggish recovery from the recession, risk inherent in the governor’s tax plan and uncertainty over the Legislature’s ability to keep cutting spending, one of the nation’s two major debt rating agencies downgraded Kansas’ credit rating Thursday.
Moody’s Investors Service dropped Kansas from its second-highest bond rating, Aa1, to its third highest, Aa2. The Kansas Department of Transportation also took the same downgrade.
As Businesweekexplained, “the immediate effect has been to blow a hole in the state’s finances without noticeable economic growth.”
Even with the cut in taxes, big companies like Applebee’s and Boeing have moved out of Kansas.
As a result, the most recent polling there shows Brownback’s approval rating down to 33%, while he’s slightly behind the Democratic challenger.
In Kansas, they can’t (honestly) blame liberals for this. They’ve been given a free hand. They were able to enact whatever they wanted, and it has been a miserable failure at a time when other states – including very blue Democratic states like here in Maryland – have been recovering from the Bush recession.
Because conservative economics doesn’t actually work. It is a faith based program untethered from reality. The numbers don’t add up and it is destructive to societies.
Charlie Crist said once again Tuesday that racism motivates many of President Obama’s most hostile GOP adversaries.
It was partly for that reason that Crist, the former Republican governor of Florida who’s now trying to reclaim his old job as a Democrat, broke with his former party.
“I couldn’t be consistent with myself and my core beliefs, and stay with a party that was so unfriendly toward the African-American president, I’ll just go there,” Crist told Fusion’s Jorge Ramos. “I was a Republican and I saw the activists and what they were doing, it was intolerable to me.”
Crist was savaged on the right when, as governor in 2009, he hugged Obama. He said earlier this year that racism motivated the outrage over the embrace.
“I think another part of it was that he was a Democrat, but not just a Democrat, an African-American,” Crist, who’s challenging Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R), said during an appearance on “The Colbert Report.”
A majority of American journalists identify themselves as political independents although among those who choose a side Democrats outnumber Republicans four to one, according to a new study of the media conducted by two Indiana University professors.
Write Lars Wilnat and David Weaver, professors of journalism at Indiana, of their findings:
Compared with 2002, the percentage of full-time U.S. journalists who claim to be Democrats has dropped 8 percentage points in 2013 to about 28 percent, moving this figure closer to the overall population percentage of 30 percent, according to a December 12-15, 2013, ABC News/Washington Post national poll of 1,005 adults. This is the lowest percentage of journalists saying they are Democrats since 1971. An even larger drop was observed among journalists who said they were Republicans in 2013 (7.1 percent) than in 2002 (18 percent), but the 2013 figure is still notably lower than the percentage of U.S. adults who identified with the Republican Party (24 percent according to the poll mentioned above).
That link about the journalist is more for information purposes. Read what else Cillizza thinks too at that link.
Los Angeles councilman Paul Koretz has called for banks NY Mellon and Dexia to return $65 million in “unfair profits and termination payments” they received between 2008 and 2014. This follows a report (embedded below) revealing that the city spent more than $200 million in fees to Wall Street in 2013 alone. Koretz says he may push the city to take punitive action against the financial institutions involved if they do not renegotiate the deal.
The report, published by the union-backed Fix LA Coalition, notes that “the City of Los Angeles last year spent more on Wall Street fees than it did on our streets.” Indeed, the report notes the city “paid Wall Street $204 million in fees, spending only $163 million on the Bureau of Street Services.”
The fees are connected to the controversial interest-rate-swap deal cemented by Los Angeles in 2006. It is a deal similar to those engineered by Wall Street in cities across the country. Those deals have made headlines in recent years in some of the country’s most high-profile municipal budget crises.
For instance, a recent study by former Goldman Sachs investment banker Wallace Turbeville found that an interest-rate swap deal was a primary driver of Detroit’s fiscal crisis. Noting that the banks used the city’s bankruptcy to demand “upwards of $250-350 million in swap termination payments,” Turbeville concluded that “a strong case can be made that the banks that sold these swaps may have breached their ethical, and possibly legal, obligations to the city in executing these deals.” (A court recently reduced the amount the city has to pay Wall Street to unwind the deals).
A new report by an immigration watchdog finds that the United States’ largest federal law enforcement agency rarely punishes its agents for their mistreatment of immigrants and American citizens.
The report by the American Immigration Council found that 97 percent of abuse complaints lodged against Border Patrol agents and Customs and Border Protection officers resulted in no disciplinary action once an investigation had been completed. Those included a complaint from a pregnant woman in El Paso, Texas, that she had miscarried after a Border Patrol agent kicked her in the stomach, and several complaints from women that they had been forced to bare their breasts while in custody.
The survey also found that many complaints against U.S. border agents take years to resolve. The council reviewed 809 complaints filed in the three years from January 2009 to January 2012. But of those, only 485 had been investigated and resolved. The remainder are still under investigation, including a nearly 5-year-old allegation of forced sexual intercourse lodged July 30, 2009, against a Border Patrol agent in El Centro, Calif.
Among the cases that were still “pending investigation, the average number of days between the date the complaint was filed and the last record date provided in the data set was 389 days,” the report said.
“This absolutely confirms the experiences of our border families and communities,” said Vicki Gaubeca, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Regional Center for Border Rights in New Mexico. “U.S. Customs and Border Protection is now the largest law enforcement agency in the nation, and yet this massive buildup of border enforcement resources has not been matched with adequate accountability and oversight.”
The Supreme Court’s popularity has rebounded, with more than half of U.S. residents surveyed now voicing a favorable view of the justices, a new survey finds.
The Pew Research Center survey, conducted last month among 1,501 adults, found that 56 percent have a favorable view of the court, while 35 percent had an unfavorable view. Last July, only 48 percent held a favorable view of the court. That rating was among the lowest ever recorded by the court, though still well above the abysmal poll numbers earned by Congress.
Intriguingly, 63 percent of Democrats have a favorable view of the court led by conservative Chief Justice John Roberts, Jr., compared to 54 percent of Republicans.
Take a deep breath…I know I have to. More after the jump.
Painting by Elena Drobychevskaja Found on Pinterest…
I want to start this post off with a note of warning. It is being written by a woman with a migraine, so excuse any mistakes or typos…or lack of coherent commentary. Honestly, my mind feels like a light bulb that is not getting the full required amount of juice to keep it lit at full brightness…right now it is kind of sparking in and out.
Sometimes it makes a connection, other times it just becomes a dull pathetic glow or ember of unfocused ideas and thoughts.
Or like a dirty spark plug that just won’t fire an engine…well, you know what I mean. No need to go on with these overused literary metaphors, that is what they are right? Uh, I’ll just refer you back to that dim light bulb.
So as I wander through this morning’s post, bear with me…
I don’t know if you have seen this horrible case of abuse that happened here in Georgia. A little girl was abused by her father and step-mother for all of her life, they killed her in a slow and painful way, and now the DA is looking into possible Death Penalty prosecution. But what is even more disgusting, is that this girl was repeatedly seen by DFCS all of her 10 years of life, from the first year until 3 months before her death. Here are two local news station reports:
We’re learning more about the death of Emani Moss, a 10-year-old Gwinnett girl, who police said was abused by her father and stepmother.
The parents accused of starving their 10-year-old daughter to death, then trying to burn her body may face the death penalty.
Danny Porter said in 20 years as the district attorney, he’s only asked for the death penalty 10 times, but he said as he looks at the evidence in this case, he may be asking for it twice in a matter of weeks.
“In 30 years of doing this, this is probably the worst case I’ve seen,” Porter said.
As he goes through the mounting evidence, Porter said the cases against Emani Moss’ parents appear eligible for the death penalty.
“I think once we learn more about the mechanism of starvation and the suffering that is involved, it may qualify as torture,” Porter said.
Investigators said the girl’s father Eman, and stepmother Tiffany, starved the 10-year-old. In late October, they allegedly left her in bed for a week, convulsing and otherwise unable to move. Police said her dad confessed to trying to burn her body in a trash can after she died.
When DFCS case workers were called to the scene of a gruesome crime at a Gwinnett County apartment complex last Saturday, it was not the first time they’d been sent to check on the welfare of 10-year-old Emani Moss.When they arrived, police told them the child’s partially burned body had been found in a trash can, three days after they believe she probably starved to death.
A case summary of her DFCS file, obtained by 11Alive Thursday under Georgia’s Open Records Act, shows DFCS checked out allegations of abuse on at least six occasions in her life, but only felt it was true on one occasion.
You have to go to that 11alive link and read the number of times this girl could have been saved…if only someone from DFCS either gave a damn or (if it turns out that it was due to lack of funding) had enough personnel to keep better track of the situation and not continue to return this girl to her abusers. She even tried to run away, only to be brought back…it is heartbreaking…tragic and fucking unacceptable…especially considering this shit, in the same city, Atlanta. A baseball team is leaving a fully paid for, perfectly good stadium for a new, taxpayer one a few miles away:
It was the Olympics’ gift to Atlanta, a stadium free and clear of debt. The taxpayers did not pay a dime for it, neither did the Atlanta Braves. The Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games built an 85,000-seat stadium for the 1996 Olympics with private money and gifted it to the city.
Perhaps that is why Turner Field seems so disposable. It was free.
Mayor Kasim Reed announced Tuesday that in the wake of the news the Braves will move to Cobb County following the 2016 season, the city will tear down the 50,000-seat ballpark, which will be just 20 years old in 2017. He declared in the press conference that there would be no vacant, rotting structure on the south side of the town, but rather a vibrant middle class neighborhood.
It was not what William J. Moss envisioned. Moss supervised the $550 million in construction of venues for the Olympics and told the Orlando Sentinel in 1991, “The idea is not to have any white elephants and for each of these things to have a use after the Olympics is over.”
It is ridiculous. And don’t tell me that Mayor Reed had no idea this shit wasn’t in the works…you know he just won re-election last week.
The Atlanta Braves announced Monday they will leave Turner Field for a new 42,000-seat, $672 million stadium about 10 miles from downtown Atlanta in 2017. It’s not clear how much the proposed ballpark will cost taxpayers.
Braves executives John Schuerholz, Mike Plant and Derek Schiller said the team decided not to seek another lease at 17-year-old Turner Field and began talks with the Cobb Marietta Coliseum and Exhibit Hall Authority in July.
(Although Schiller initially declined to say how much the county would be paying, this story says that Cobb County will be on the hook for $450 million, with the Braves paying roughly $200 million.)
In case you’re wondering, Cobb County falls mostly in Newt Gingrich’s old district, which consists of people who hate big government except when it transfers extraordinary amounts of money to incredibly wealthy people. I wonder how they’ll manage to shift the burden from the county to the state and federal government; I don’t doubt that the effort will involve some altogether ingenious accounting, combined with a concerted effort to screw over the poor.
I’m know I’m going to sound like an old man again, but I can remember 1997 like it was yesterday. I can almost taste it, smell it — the time when a couple of Yankee kids named Jeter and Rivera ruled the baseball world, when Hillary Clinton was strolling the corridors of the White House, and when the Dow hit the Olympian heights of 8,000. It seemed like those times would never end, but now it’s 16 long years later (that’s not a typo…1-6!) and time continues to march inexorably forward.
I felt a pang of nostalgia when I read today that another relic of that bygone era is biting the dust, that the Atlanta Braves are finally (finally!) saying goodbye to historic Turner Field, ending its more than decade-and-a-half run and heading for the greener pastures of suburban Cobb County. Goodbye to the ballpark where the ghosts of John Rocker and David Justice still lurk, its old-timey giant “Eat Mor Chickin'” Chick-fil-A cow, the “Tomahawk Chop” (yes, people weren’t as advanced on matters of race back then, unfortunately), and the quaint aroma of jalapeno nachos in the sultry Georgia air.
When I saw the news — on Twitter, which didn’t even exist way back in 1997! — this morning that the Braves will be saying good-bye to Turner Field in 2017, after the expiration of their original 20-year lease, I really only had one reaction.
What the hell, Atlanta Braves? Or maybe it was, what the hell, Atlanta…(and Cobb County.) OK, I guess it was actually, what the hell. America?
Yup, Turner Field is the same age as my son Jake, but this is where the man gets to the point:
The news that the Braves plan to abandon it is simply stunning. What happened? The Braves say they want to be closer to their real fan base in the affluent northern suburbs, and hey, that’s capitalism, I guess. Except here’s the thing….it’s not capitalism. The Braves say it would have cost $200 million to “fix” Turner Field (apparently for things like new seats and new lights…hard to believe that the old ones only lasted 16 years and that it costs that much to fix them, but that’s what they claim.) In Cobb County, they’re spending the same amount for a whole new stadium — because the taxpayers of Cobb County are promising to pay the rest, a whopping $450 million. They’ve promised the money to the Braves even though there’s been no public hearings and no vote. I have no idea how that even works.
So this is not real capitalism at all — it’s corrupted crony capitalism. Now it seems that Cobb County is one of the 100th wealthiest counties in America, and the 12th most educated. So $450 million must be chump change — it’s not like they’re Philadelphia, slashing public school teachers in the face of massive budget cuts. Oh wait…actually they are sort of like that:
Cobb County’s school board approved a 2013-14 budget Thursday night that will result in five furlough days for all employees, the loss of 182 teachers through attrition and a slimmer central administration staff.
The cuts are the result of reduced state aid and lower property tax revenues — although apparently the lower property tax revenues that are low enough to mean fewer teachers aren’t so low that they can’t BUILD A NEW BASEBALL STADIUM! For a team that already has what you and I might, sanely, consider a pretty new baseball stadium.
There’s so much else that it’s hard to know where to begin . There’s the fact that the Braves are leaving a ballpark served by mass transit for one that would be located at one of the most traffic-congested intersections (I-75 and I-285) in America, pumping tons of unnecessary carbon pollution into the air….
Now back to that Will Bunch post already in progress…
…The fact that this is just slightly less egregious than what’s happening with Atlanta’s also pretty new, also fully functional football stadium the Georgia Done (which opened way back in…wait for it, 1992) that’s being replaced with a $1.2 billion palace with a retractable roof, because…??? And there’s the “white flight” of the Braves leaving the majority black city where Aaron heroically endured death threats to break Babe Ruth’s record.
Which maybe wouldn’t be so terrible…if they weren’t doing it with other people’s money. But here’s the thing that really galls me — that this is happening in Georgia, the hotbed of the Tea Party, the state that gave us Cobb County’s own Newt Gingrich and now sends right-wing crackpots like Rep. Paul Broun to Washington so that they can rail against “the moochers,” “the takers,” who don’t think twice about slashing food stamps and who won’t — on principle…principle! — take Washington’s Medicaid money so that their own working-poor constituents can get good health coverage. And now they’re writing the (corporate) welfare check of a lifetime, to one of the most historically lucrative sports franchises in American history, and their only question is how many zeroes there are in $450 million. How dare they?!
Yeah, they also are building a new stadium for their NFL Falcons too…fucking Georgia assholes.
I just got back from Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s press conference on the Braves’ move to a transportation-challenged site in Cobb County, and will have a lot more to say on that later. But I can’t let this pass without notice:
Joe Dendy, chairman of the Cobb County Republican Party, says that he has two conditions for supporting the Braves’ proposed move (h/t Jim Galloway):
1.) That Cobb County citizens won’t have to pay higher taxes as a result, and
2.) “It is absolutely necessary the (transportation) solution is all about moving cars in and around Cobb and surrounding counties from our north and east where most Braves fans travel from, and not moving people into Cobb by rail from Atlanta.”
Again, that’s from the chairman of the Republican Party in the state’s wealthiest, most sophisticated GOP stronghold. If you want to know why the Atlanta region has trouble acting and thinking like a region, why we have abandoned mass transit options that every other major urban area in the country is pursuing, and why we have forfeited the economic dynamism that once made this city/region the envy of much of the nation, there you have it.
Not to mention what it says about the “inclusive” attitude of a certain number of Georgia Republicans.
Yeah, they don’t want any Braves fans from South Atlanta, that need to travel via MARTA…or, because as Axel Foley would say…
Oh, wait a moment, that quote from Joe Dendy isn’t racist at all…my guess is that Richard Cohen would feel at home going to a Braves game in Cobb County.
Fucking Georgia Republicans.
All this going on while kids like Emani Moss are being ignored by DFCS, starved to death and then burned like rubbish inside a trash can by their parents. Once again the PLUB mentality is overwhelmingly disgusting. Too bad Emani did not show a knack for throwing a football or baseball. (Okay that may be pushing it too far, but I am so angry about this. And with my headache, I can’t find a good/better argument.)
On July 19, 2013, in an event celebrated the world over, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft slipped into Saturn’s shadow and turned to image the planet, seven of its moons, its inner rings — and, in the background, our home planet, Earth.
With the sun’s powerful and potentially damaging rays eclipsed by Saturn itself, Cassini’s onboard cameras were able to take advantage of this unique viewing geometry. They acquired a panoramic mosaic of the Saturn system that allows scientists to see details in the rings and throughout the system as they are backlit by the sun. This mosaic is special as it marks the third time our home planet was imaged from the outer solar system; the second time it was imaged by Cassini from Saturn’s orbit; and the first time ever that inhabitants of Earth were made aware in advance that their photo would be taken from such a great distance.
This vintage ad about sums it up…look at the symbolic GOP elephant and his poison spray can of DDT …
Agnotology. New word, for me at least…read this explanation and tell me if it strikes a chord with you. (Emphasis mine.)
Agnotology is the study of culturally induced ignorance.
Agnotology refocuses questions about “how we know” to include questions about what we do not know, and why not.
Londa Schiebinger, in the Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, 1 Sep. 2005.
Historians of science have tended to focus on the processes by which scientific knowledge gets accepted. In recent decades, some scholars have come to see that processes that impede or prevent acceptance of scientific findings are also important. Such processes include the very human desire to ignore unpleasant facts, media neglect of topics, corporate or government secrecy, and misrepresentation for a commercial or political end. They often generate controversy, much of itill-informed. Examples include the health implications of tobacco and of genetically modified plants, the safety of nuclear power, the environmental consequences of hydraulic fracturing (fracking), and the existence or extent of man-made climate change.
Seriously, by that definition alone, and with those examples…you could just say that Agnotology is the study of Republicans.
While we are going through a GOP induced hell here in the states, some parts of India are living a real hell…being hit by one of the strongest typhoons in years. Cyclone Phailin makes landfall in India
A huge cyclone that has forced as many as 500,000 people to flee their homes has made landfall in eastern India.
Winds were measured at 200 km/h (125mph) as Cyclone Phailin hit the coast near Gopalpur, Orissa state, at about 21:15 (15:45 GMT).
Authorities had predicted a storm surge of at least 3m (10ft) that was expected to cause extensive damage.
Officials say they are better prepared than in 1999 when a cyclone killed thousands of people in Orissa.
Cyclone Phailin has been classed as “very severe”, and the head of India’s Meteorological Office, LS Rathore, said it would remain in that category for six hours before losing strength.
An hour before Phailin made landfall, winds were over 150 mph. New York Times is reporting that over 800,00 people have been evacuated…We will learn more as the morning progresses, I will post updates in the comments below.
The clashes began after a protester had her rainbow flag ripped from her hands [Reuters]
Sixty-seven people were arrested after fightes broke out between gay rights activists and opponents at a rally in the Russian city of St Petersburg, according to local news sources.
Several dozen activists for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transexual rights had gathered in the centre of the city for a sanctioned LGBT rally, which was held on what activists termed as “international coming out day”.
They were far outnumbered by the anti-gay demonstrators, including several dressed as Cossacks and Orthodox priests, who had occupied the site of the planned demo.
Fights broke out after anti-gay protesters tore a rainbow flag from a woman’s hands, and police then moved in to arrest those involved. They eventually detained 67 people from both sides, Russian news agencies reported.
The Winter Games are going to be one shitty scary mess.
New York City police have arrested a cousin in the killing of a 4-year-old girl dubbed “Baby Hope,” whose body was found crammed in a picnic cooler in 1991, police said on Saturday.
Conrado Juarez, 52, early on Saturday confessed to sexually assaulting and then smothering the girl, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly told a news conference.
Police detained him at a Manhattan restaurant on Friday, more than 22 years after the girl’s death, he said.
The girl, dubbed “Baby Hope” by investigators, was never reported missing and was only recently identified.
Kelly named her as 4-year-old Anjelica Castillo.
Her bound, asphyxiated body was discovered stuffed underneath cans of soda inside a blue-and-white cooler alongside the Henry Hudson Highway in northern Manhattan in July of 1991. She had been starved and sexually abused, police said.
New York police announced on Tuesday they had identified the girl’s mother after following through on a tip they received over the summer. Her identity was confirmed through DNA testing and she was cooperating with the investigation, they said.
Finally some closure for the people who have worked this case for all these years, because it is obvious the family didn’t give a damn about this little girl at all. Police say Juarez’s sister, who is dead, helped him dispose of Anjelica’s body. More information at this CNN link: NYPD arrests man in killing of ‘Baby Hope’
“Who can look up your Timeline by name?” Anyone you haven’t blocked. Facebook is removing this privacy setting, notifying those who had hidden themselves that they’ll be searchable. It deleted the option from those who hadn’t used it in December, and is starting to push everyone to use privacy controls on each type of content they share. But there’s no one-click opt out of Facebook search.
If you’ve ever been appalled to see yourself or your friends used in a Facebook ad, then you’re not going to like Google‘s new terms of service.
The company updated its TOS on Friday to allow an adult user’s profile name and photo to appear in reviews and advertising starting Nov. 11.
And let me tell you, it is a bitch to find the dashboard on Google where you can fix this shit!
We have a personal connection to the PBS Frontline “League of Denial” that aired this past week, Boston Boomer’s brother created the trailer that angered the NFL so much they pressured ESPN to drop out of the project….well here’s a round-up of responses to the show via The Dish: The Football Fan’s Dilemma « The Dish
October 10 marks the 11th World Day Against the Death Penalty, and the United States remains one of the top five countries in the world for executing its citizens — along with China, Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, according to Amnesty International. The 43 executions we carried out last year happened in just nine states; 15 of them were in Texas.
I am going to move on to the better part of today’s post…nothing depressing or disturbing.
Some research suggests that growing up with a disabled sibling can also infuse a person with a greater sense of responsibility, patience and compassion for others. Some siblings may be inspired to go into a helping profession, like medicine, teaching or public interest law. Others translate their early experience with disability into a greater appreciation for, and understanding of, the wide spectrum of human differences. I confess to keeping my own list of successful and accomplished people who have a sibling with Down syndrome, which includes the Olympic snowboarder Kevin Pearce (now himself disabled by a traumatic brain injury), the actor and singer Jamie Foxx, the actress Eva Longoria, and Amy Chua of “Tiger Mom” fame (and a Yale Law School professor).
That is just one paragraph I want to point out, you have to read the whole op/ed. It is great.I guess it is for me because I know the outcome of growing up with a disabled sibling…in my situation, Denny and I were always a package deal. So I see the hope in that piece.
If you were to measure octopus smarts by the number of neurons the creatures have (500 million to our almost 100 billion), they’d come up pretty dull. But forget that metric. The octopus’s neurons aren’t even concentrated in its head; about two-thirds of its “brains” are distributed in its arms, dedicated to the fine operation of these limbs and each of their hundreds of suckers. The rest of the neurons are split between a central brain—surrounding the esophagus—and large optic lobes behind the eyes. Like we said: alien.
But somehow octopuses do things that suggest they’re brainier than plenty of animals with backbones and more familiar nervous systems. Here’s an easy one: Lots of octopods have learned to twist off standard jar lids. But in 2003, biologists at the Seattle Aquarium challenged Billye, a female Enteroctopus dofleini—a giant Pacific octopus—with a childproof bottle, the kind that can baffle even the smartest Homo sapiens. Billye figured out the push-and-twist trick in a little less than an hour. And in subsequent attempts, she popped those tricky tops in a mere five minutes.
Is the vertebrate brain optimized for intelligence? Ask the octopus. | Robert Eikelpoth/Corbis
This is just the beginning of their abilities. Octopuses in the wild may be using tools—a feat that, not so long ago, was considered the exclusive domain of humans (though now we know it’s the province of other species too, like dolphins and some birds). Researchers have observed octopuses off the coast of Indonesia collecting—and awkwardly carrying—coconut shell halves along the sandy seafloor. For a shelter on the go, they whip out the two pieces of shell, swoop inside, and snap the pair shut. “That’s a spectacular example, because it really does suggest foresight,” says Jennifer Mather, who studies animal behavior at Canada’s University of Lethbridge. “In terms of cognition, that’s pretty good.”
Have a great Sunday!
Stop by and share what you are reading and blogging about today.
Did you like this post? Please share it with your friends:
A total of 26 Republican-led or Republican-leaning states have declined to establish insurance exchanges, a centerpiece of the reforms ushered in by the Affordable Care Act, ceding control of a critical element of their health care system to the federal government.
The ACA requires the creation of the one-stop marketplaces called exchanges to connect buyers and sellers of health insurance — the vehicle through which the law would expand coverage and protect consumers. The law encourages states to build their own exchanges under the guidelines. If they refuse, the federal government will take on the task.
By last Friday’s deadline, just 17 states and Washington, D.C., submitted their plans for exchanges. Just four of them are governed by Republicans — Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah. An additional seven states intend to build their exchanges in partnership with the federal government. The exchanges are scheduled to go live on Jan. 1, 2014.
Of the remaining 26, twenty-four have Republican governors. The other two, Montana and Missouri, have decidedly conservatives electorates and Republican-controlled legislatures.
Personally, I think this story is a prime example of the political machine dishing the same old shit once again.
When the ACA created this structure, it seemed like a no-brainer that states would be on board. Why would any of them, especially the ones hostile to the law, willingly give up control of their health care systems to Washington?
Ironically the answer, by and large, is politics. Conservatives activists detest “Obamacare” and argue that any governor who agrees to build an exchange is abetting the law, even though the consequence of not doing to is to surrender more control to Washington. There is a substantive gripe, too: conservatives contend that the law offers too little flexibility for states to craft the exchanges in accordance with their needs.
I still wish like hell this Obamacare would magically morph into a single payer option, which would be the best way to get healthcare coverage to the masses. But that wish of mine is itself bullshit because it will never happen.
Seriously, here are some of the actual titles of scheduled events:
CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference, hits Washington March 14-16. In addition to speeches by Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Steve King, Michele Bachmann, Jim DeMint, Phyllis Schlafly, Sarah Palin, Brent Bozell, Rick Santorum and the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre, CPAC is proud to present these panels (all real, BTW):
Should We Shoot All the Consultants Now?
The Future of the Movement: Winning with Generation X/Y
Stop THIS: Threats, Harrassment, Intimidation, Slander and Bullying from the Obama Administration
How I Learned to Stop Worrying & Love Plastic Water Bottles, Fracking, Genetically Modified Food, & Big Gulp Sodas
Is America Coming Apart?
The Fight for Religious Libery(sic): 40 years After Roe V. Wade
Getting Hollywood Right
Free at Last: When the Right to Work Came Back to the Midwest
Good grief! Now if that is not a list of the same old shit, I don’t know what is!
There was some surprising news last night, I expected to have to write about the latest controversial execution in my home state of Georgia, but check it out…a last minute stay of execution was granted to Warren Hill, a man that has learning disability. Warren Hill granted stay of execution
Warren Hill, 53, has been granted a stay of execution from the federal appeals court for the 11th circuit. Photograph: Ho/AFP/Getty Images
Warren Hill, an intellectually disabled prisoner, has been spared the death chamber just 30 minutes before he was due to die by lethal injection in Georgia despite a US supreme court ban on executions of people with learning difficulties.
Hill, 53, had already taken an oral sedative of Ativan to help calm himself for the gurney before he learned of the stay of execution from the federal appeals court for the 11th circuit. The court agreed to consider the issue of his intellectual disabilities in the light of a 2002 US supreme court ruling that prohibits executions of “mentally retarded” prisoners as a breach of the constitutional safeguard against cruel and unusual punishment.
Georgia is the only state in the union that insists prisoners must prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that they have learning difficulties – a standard that experts say is almost impossible to achieve.
Hill had been scheduled to be executed at 7pm at the same prison where Troy Davis was put to death in September 2011 amid massive international outcry. Davis’s death, despite substantial evidence of his innocence, prompted dramatic scenes at the prison where hundreds of protesters were confronted by armed Swat police armed with a police helicopter flying overhead.
This article from the Guardian makes a point to mention there were fewer protesters this time around.
Hill’s scheduled execution attracted a comparatively small response, with few protesters and campaigners present in the prison grounds as the appointed hour approached. This was the second time in seven months that Hill has come close to the death chamber: last July he was spared by just 90 minutes and the experience was repeated on Tuesday night with just 30 minutes to go.
I guess many people are feeling the apathy that SSDD brings to those who deal with the same shit every day, you know what I am talking about…that feeling of why even bother, things are never going to change. Shit always trickles downward…and it is invariably the same folks getting shit on, over and over again.
Freshman Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and six other House Republicans have proposed legislation that would spend $30 million a year on federal grants to help put police officers in schools across the country.
The Protect America’s Schools Act is a reaction to the December shooting at a Connecticut elementary school that left 20 children dead. After that shooting, National Rifle Association President Wayne LaPierre suggested that children in schools be protected by armed guards, and Meadows’s bill would appear to be a step in that direction.
“According to a recent Gallup poll, 53 percent of Americans believe that increasing police presence at schools would be very effective in preventing future tragedies,” Meadows said last week. “After speaking to local law enforcement, superintendents and principals in my district, I believe this is the best path forward.”
His bill, H.R. 751, would fund the Cops in Schools grant program, which has not been funded since 2005. Up to $30 million per year could be distributed in grants to help states afford the placement of police in schools.
Meadows said this spending would be offset with unspent funds from the operations budget of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The article reports this plan to put cops in schools got its start in the Clinton Administration…but this current bill is sponsored by GOP reps alone. Why not put a big tax on the bullets and used that to fund the cops in schools?
Okay, the rest of today’s links are just plain interesting. Of course I give them to you in link dump fashion:
The Sky Dancing banner headline uses a snippet from a work by artist Tashi Mannox called 'Rainbow Study'. The work is described as a" study of typical Tibetan rainbow clouds, that feature in Thanka painting, temple decoration and silk brocades". dakinikat was immediately drawn to the image when trying to find stylized Tibetan Clouds to represent Sky Dancing. It is probably because Tashi's practice is similar to her own. His updated take on the clouds that fill the collection of traditional thankas is quite special.
You can find his work at his website by clicking on his logo below. He is also a calligraphy artist that uses important vajrayana syllables. We encourage you to visit his on line studio.