Monday Reads: and the beat goes on

5a07c9c80ea19b926bd8bac117a57dbbWhat can be said about the violence erupting around the country and around the world these days?  Words can fail us. We’re losing hearts and minds along with lives.  How did we get here?  I hope we don’t have to wait on historians to deconstruct the causes because we’re careening towards a future that seems better imagined by George Miller and Byron Kennedy of Mad Max fame.  Dystopian fiction should not actually portend reality. It should be a harbinger of possibilities we can avoid; not outcomes we bring on to ourselves.

Today will be another reminder that one of the two major parties has completely lost its ability to govern and is stuck some where  we should not be.  We have the Republicans about ready to nominate a dude that reminds me of the Dennis Hopper character in Water World.   Trump sounds as crazy as that character.  I’m waiting to hear his big convention floor speech and wondering if he’ll be waving a cigar and a bottle of Jack and be wearing an eye patch, frankly.  We’re losing our sense of community and our sense of responsibility as members of community.

Our sense of alienation perhaps comes from  a world where we are more likely to connect with technology than with a human being and where our jobs are continually dehumanizing us. This generally makes us susceptible to folks that play on our anger. We’ve had two very angry pseudo populists on the national stage who really represent privilege that have done a great job of stirring up resentment.   They’ve also stirred up some insane reaction to that visible resentment.  I personally am watching my neighborhood be torn apart by already rich people looking to make more money by dismantling everything and every one deemed unprofitable.  I feel like I only exist to many of them as a possible source of monetization although I can tell I’ve outlived my usefulness for that as an aging woman of little means these days.

How did we get to a point where one of the two major parties is actually going to nominate a man whose speeches call for the dismantling of the First, Fourth, Fifth, and Eighth amendments to our Constitution? Are we so far down the rabbit hole that we’ll actually sell out the rule of law for guns and anger?

Trump has from the start of his campaign sparked controversy with statements, actions, and proposals that disregard the First Amendment. He and his aides have created blacklists of journalists, and the candidate has expressed an interest inrewriting libel laws in order to intimidate, punish, and potentially silence critics of powerful individuals and interests. Trump has, as well, proposed schemes to discriminate against Muslims and to spy on mosques and neighborhoods where Muslims live—with steady disregard for the amendment’s guarantee of protection for America’s diverse religious communities.

But that’s just the beginning of Trump’s assaults on the Constitution. Trump has encouraged the use of torture and blatantly disregarded privacy protections that have been enshrined in the founding document since the 18th century. He has attacked the basic premises of a constitutionally defined separation of powers, with rhetorical assaults on individual jurists and the federal judiciary so extreme that House Speaker Paul Ryan described one such attack as  “the textbook definition of a racist comment.” He has proposed instituting religious tests. He has shown open and consistent disregard for the promise that all Americans will receive equal protection under the law.

Many of us have long harbored the idea that today’s Republican Party only cares about the idea of a Second Amendment on steroids and Waterworld-Hopperthe rest of our civil liberties and rights should be damned.  The realities of what I used to believe were brief moments of paranoia are just on full display this week.  Have you seen the pictures of the up-armored bicycle police in Cleveland?  I mean, how Clockwork Orange is that? Don’t even get me started on the entire idea of letting folks with assault rifles into the protest pits to strut around like dildo-toting S&M bondage RPers who are likely trigger happy. We just had three police officers ambushed and killed in Baton Rouge and the response is to let more crazies out on the streets with guns?  Really?  Really?

Hours after the head of Cleveland’s police union pleaded with the governorto suspend Ohio’s open-carry laws during the Republican National Convention, Donald Trump’s spokesperson told ThinkProgress she is “not nervous at all” that people are walking around the city with assault weapons.

“I am recommending that people follow the law,” Katrina Pierson said Sunday when asked whether she believes people should arm themselves in the convention zone. Under Ohio law, residents over 21 years old who legally own a firearm can openly carry it in public.

In light of the shooting and death of three police officers in Baton Rouge on Sunday, the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association asked for an emergency suspension of the state’s open-carry law for the duration of the Republican National Convention.

“We are sending a letter to Gov. [John] Kasich requesting assistance from him,” union president Stephen Loomis told CNN. “He could very easily do some kind of executive order or something — I don’t care if it’s constitutional or not at this point.” Kasich denied the union’s request.

The violence in Louisiana on Sunday was only the latest in a series of deadly clashes between police and civilians over the past few weeks. When an angry, heavily-armed civilian began shooting at police during a Dallas Black Lives Matter protest earlier this month, the state’s open-carry law made it difficult for police to track down the assailant. Officers mistook at least one legally armed resident for a suspect, and the proliferation of guns made it more difficult for them to determine who posed a threat.

In the weeks leading up to the RNC, Cleveland officials expressed concern that Ohio’s law, like Texas’, would create a dangerous and hectic environment outside the convention.

2002-British-TVI’m going to put up a few links about what’s been going down in my state but I really have gone past words at some level. I have a few scattered thoughts. First, the two most recent shooters–while being black men–remind me more of Timothy McVeigh than anything coming from BLM.   These recent institutional shooters all have a military background and appear to have spent extensive time in theater over in the Middle East.

The Dallas police shooter was an army Vet and a “loner”.   The Baton Rouge Shooter was a former Marine.   Here’s a list of 22 serial killers with military backgrounds.  Are we really doing a good job of identifying vets with problems and helping them before setting them loose on society again?  Don’t we owe them and ourselves something at all?  If we broke them, shouldn’t we fix them or at least help them in some way to cope with their experiences?

There’s a lot of studies and work that’s been done that show PTSD contributes to violence. Are we just beginning to see some more of the real costs of invading Iraq and Afghanistan and sustaining a brutal ground war?

At the end of their 15-month tour in Iraq, the Lethal Warriors returned to Fort Carson with an impressive battlefield record, having cleared one of the worst parts of Baghdad, in some cases digging up IEDs with little more than screwdrivers and tire irons. Unfortunately, the Lethal Warriors achieved a kind of notoriety that was less for their battlefield exploits than for the battalion’s connection to a string of murders. In December 2007 two soldiers from the unit, Robert James and Kevin Shields, were killed, and three fellow soldiers were charged with murder. The killings were part of a larger pattern of violence extending back to 2005, including 11 murders, in what was the largest killing spree involving a single army base in modern U.S. history.

The increased violence around Fort Carson began at the start of the Iraq war. A 126-page Army report known as an “Epidemiological Consultation” released in 2009 found that the murder rate around the Army’s third-largest post had doubled and that the number of rape arrests had tripled. As David Philipps wrote in Lethal Warriors, his 2010 book about the crime spree, “In the year after the battalion returned from Iraq, the per-capita murder rate for this small group of soldiers was a hundred times greater than the national average.” Tellingly, 2-12’s post-traumatic stress disorder rate was more than three times that of an equivalent unit that had served in a less violent part of Iraq. The EPICON summarized all this in classic bureaucratic language, noting dully that there was “a possible association between increasing levels of combat exposure and risk for negative behavioral outcomes.”

Put another way, war has a way of bringing out the dark side in people.

Road-WarriorOur institutions seem to do be doing that to a lot of people.  Combine that with easy access to military grade weapons and candidates whose stump speeches bring on anger and resentment and you’ve just got some kind of accelerant to death and violence imho anyway.  Mother Jones has started to keep a database on mass shootings and the profiles of the perpetrators is really quite enlightening. This is from 2012 to get you situated.   Here’s the list of the deadliest Mass shootings from 1984 to 2016.  The US is resplendent with well-armed rampage killers. Many of them are trained and experienced killers, quite damaged, and have easy access to weapons.

This is a 2013 Wired article that shows that a lot of the killings at that time were associated with folks with no military experience at all.  A lot of these killers have a fascination with military life styles but that is more along the lines of militias rather than the US military.

The basic pattern found by the New Jersey DHS fusion center, and obtained by Public Intelligence (.PDF), is one of a killer who lashes out at his co-workers. Thirteen out of the 29 observed cases “occurred at the workplace and were conducted by either a former employee or relative of an employee,” the November report finds. His “weapon of choice” is a semiautomatic handgun, rather than the rifles that garnered so much attention after Newtown. The infamous Columbine school slaying of 1999 is the only case in which killers worked in teams: they’re almost always solo acts — and one-off affairs. In every single one of them, the killer was male, between the age of 17 and 49.

They also don’t have military training. Veterans are justifiably angered by the Hollywood-driven meme of the unhinged vet who takes out his battlefield stress on his fellow Americans. (Thanks, Rambo.) In only four of the 29 cases did the shooter have any affiliation with the U.S. military, either active or prior at the time of the slaying, and the fusion center doesn’t mention any wartime experience of the killers. Yet the Army still feels the need to email reporters after each shooting to explain that the killer never served.

How will these recent, targeted shootings of police change our ideas of mass, rampage shooters?  The Baton Rouge shooter has left a huge manifesto on various social media outlets that will likely be analyzed by crime profilers  and psychologists for some time.

Long posted dozens of videos and podcasts on his webpage “Convos With Cosmo” in addition to regularly tweeting and posting on Twitter and Instagram under the pseudonym “Cosmo Setepenra.”

In a video titled “Convos With Cosmo on Protesting, Oppression, and how to deal with Bullies” that was posted a week before Sunday’s shooting, he rants about “fighting back” against “bullies” and discussed the killings of black men at the hands of the police, referencing the death of Sterling, who was shot and killed by police in Baton Rouge earlier this month.

No matter what kinds of lessons we learn about motives or triggers to these kinds of horrible shootings, the one thing we do know is that we have scads of damaged men that have easy access to incredibly powerful weapons wrecking havoc on our communities.  We also know that there is a hard core group of gun fetishists and profiteers that don’t give a damn about that.  While ignoring the perpetual drip drip drip of lost rights from other amendments, the second amendment is being hyped, dosed, and morphed into something that it was never meant to be.  The Republican party is complicit to each and every murder victim.  Machine Guns are not protected by the Second Amendment.

A Texas man who sued the federal government because it wouldn’t approve his application to manufacture a machine gun doesn’t have a constitutional right to possess the automatic weapon, an appeals court ruled.

Jay Hollis sought permission to convert his AR-15, a popular semi-automatic firearm, into an M16 — an automatic firearm that is banned under federal law, except for official use or lawfully obtained pre-1986 models.

After he was rejected, Hollis mounted a constitutional challenge to the Gun Control Act of 1968 — which Congress amended in 1986 to make it illegal to possess or transfer newly manufactured machine guns. Among other things, he argued that an “M-16 is the quintessential militia-styled arm for the modern day.”

In a unanimous ruling issued Thursday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit rejected Hollis’ arguments, categorically noting that “machine guns are not protected arms under the Second Amendment.”

The court explained that the leading Supreme Court precedent on the right to keep and bear arms, 2008’s District of Columbia v. Heller, only protected individual handgun possession for “defense of hearth and home.”

“Today … ordinary military weaponry is far more advanced than the weapons typically found at home and used for (self)-defense,” the court said, adding that machine guns are “dangerous and unusual,” and nothing like what militias might have used at the founding of the republic.

“Heller rejected a functionalist interpretation of the Second Amendment premised on the effectiveness of militia service,” the court of appeals said.

Aided by a number of gun rights groups, Hollis had pressed a number of other arguments — that anything that is “ordinary military equipment” is protected, that the Second Amendment really exists to allow a rebellion against the government, and that machine guns aren’t really “dangerous and unusual.”

The 5th Circuit was largely unimpressed, calling the last argument “tantamount to asking us to overrule the Supreme Court.”

We’ve got some major dysfunction in this country that can’t be more clearly represented than by the toxic Trump/Pence ticket.The problem is that a huge portion of our citizenship feels so disenfranchised that they seem to be in search of the end times.  Their viewpoints appear to be funded and shaped by the very folks that are making this happen.  The one thing that’s discouraged me most is that leftists are playing into a similar narrative.


It seems unlikely that Trump will be president.  I’d like to think that Hillary Clinton will be our shero. But, without a full functioning set of government institutions, how are we going to get beyond the Thunderdome? Why are we electing officials whose goal in life appear to be sabotaging our country?  If most people reject Donald Trump, why do we have a Speaker Paul Fucking Ryan whose favorite dystopian fiction writer has an overwhelmingly negative impact our US Policy?

As the GOP convention gets underway in Cleveland today, three national polls released over the weekend showed Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump: A CNN poll putting Clinton up by 49-42; an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll putting her up by 46-41; and a Washington Post/ABC News poll putting her up by 47-43.

But buried beneath the toplines is evidence of another dynamic that gets at something important about the state of this race: While both Clinton and Trump are very unpopular, large majorities in two of these polls believe that only one of them is qualified for the presidency, and equally large majorities believe that the other one is not.

The new WaPo poll finds, for instance, that Americans say by 59-39 that Clinton is “qualified to serve as president,” but they also say by 60-37 that Trump is “not qualified to serve as president.”

Paul Ryan :: Ayn Désastre :: The Sinking of the S.S. Prospérité

Paul Ryan :: Ayn Désastre :: The Sinking of the S.S. Prospérité

Again, my hope is that Trump/Pence go down yugely and take the likes of Paul Ryan with them. You can’t have one set of them without the others who basically feel the same way but signal their intent with weasel words.

So, obviously, we down here in Louisiana are reeling from all the recent killings.  I think some of the policy prescriptions are obvious otherwise it will be upward and onward with “a bit of the old ultraviolence.”

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Lazy Saturday Reads: Bernie Sanders, Vermont, and Guns


Good Afternoon!!

On Thursday, I wrote about Bernie Sanders’ embarrassing interview with The New York Daily News. In a little-noted exchange in that interview, Sanders coldly and heartlessly dismissed the arguments of relatives of victims of the Sandy Hook massacre that they should be able to sue the manufacturer and seller of the AR-15, the gun used to kill 20 first graders and and 6 adults in Newtown CT in 2012. I mentioned that I had more to say about Sanders’ stance on guns and Vermont’s almost non-existent gun laws.

Once again, here is that exchange with the NY Daily News editorial board:

Daily News: There’s a case currently waiting to be ruled on in Connecticut. The victims of the Sandy Hook massacre are looking to have the right to sue for damages the manufacturers of the weapons. Do you think that that is something that should be expanded?

Sanders: Do I think the victims of a crime with a gun should be able to sue the manufacturer, is that your question?

Daily News: Correct.

Sanders: No, I don’t.

Daily News: Let me ask you. I know we’re short on time. Two quick questions. Your website talks about…

Sanders: No, let me just…I’m sorry. In the same sense that if you’re a gun dealer and you sell me a gun and I go out and I kill him [gestures to someone in room]…. Do I think that that gun dealer should be sued for selling me a legal product that he misused? [Shakes head no.] But I do believe that gun manufacturers and gun dealers should be able to be sued when they should know that guns are going into the hands of wrong people. So if somebody walks in and says, “I’d like 10,000 rounds of ammunition,” you know, well, you might be suspicious about that. So I think there are grounds for those suits, but not if you sell me a legal product.

Sanders argued this case on the Thom Hartmann radio show on the afternoon of the Sandy Hook school shooting.


Hunter Walker at Yahoo News, Jan. 9, 2016: Sanders defended protections for gun manufacturers on the day of the Newtown massacre.

Sanders appeared on The Thom Hartmann Program in the hours after the shooting, on Dec. 14, 2012. On the show, he was asked if the parents of the victims had “any recourse against the gun manufacturer.” Sanders suggested he would seek solutions that did not place blame on firearms makers.

“I don’t know that you hold a gun manufacturer responsible for what obviously a deranged person does. The issue is what is the best way forward to prevent these types of horrible occurrences? How do we make sure the guns do not get into the hands of people who are mentally ill? How do we make sure that people own guns which are only designed to kill people not to be used for hunting or target practices? So I mean there’s a lot to be discussed, and I think we’ve got to do something. We don’t want to read about this every month. So, it is an issue we’re going to have to address,” Sanders said.

Although Hillary Clinton did not in fact ever say that Sanders is “unqualified” to be POTUS, I personally believe that his views on guns should disqualify him from running for president as a Democrat.


The assault weapon used in the Sandy Hook massacre is a gun that is, in Bernie’s words, “designed to kill people, not to used for hunting or target practice.” Nevertheless, Bernie argues that the relatives of the Sandy Hook victims should not be able to sue the gun manufacturer for heavily promoting the popular AR-15 assault weapon that Adam Lanza used to kill 20 first graders and 6 adults on December 14, 2012.

Sanders often defends his stance on guns by talking about his largely rural home state, Vermont where hunting is valued and where the murder rate is incredibly low. This is true, but Vermont does is not an island in a bubble that has no effect on other states.

Vermont’s loose laws allow gun traffickers to easily and cheaply buy weapons in Sanders’ state and sell them in urban areas in Massachusetts, New York and other northeastern states where gun laws are much stricter. The Boston Globe has published multiple articles about this serious problem over the past several years. The problem is tied up with the drug trade as well. Here’s just one example from the Globe from April 2014:

Gun show in Vermont

Gun show in Vermont

Drugs-for-guns traffic troubles police in Mass., Vt.

Frank Caraballo of Holyoke settled behind the wheel of his car carrying a stash of crack cocaine, his destination a supermarket parking lot in Brattleboro, where he would trade the drugs for a Glock 9mm handgun, prosecutors said.

It was a journey — and a deal — all too familiar to law enforcement authorities who have watched with increasing alarm as narcotics from Massachusetts are ferried to Vermont and swapped for guns that are plentiful and cheap.

And as the case of Frank Caraballo showed, the drugs-for-guns trade can end with deadly consequences: A few weeks after Caraballo purchased the gun in 2011, a woman whom he suspected had stolen from him was shot dead with a Glock 9mm in rural Vermont. Last October, Caraballo was convicted in the killing.

“You don’t know which one came first, the chicken or the egg, but guns are being traded for drugs, and drug dealers are coming here with their product,” said Jim Mostyn, the Vermont agent in charge for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. “Drug dealers are aware that guns are readily available here.”

It’s an excellent article, and I hope you’ll read the rest. This is why we need Federal gun laws. Why isn’t Bernie Sanders addressing this issue that is hurting people in Vermont as well as Massachusetts and other states? Why isn’t the media asking him about it?

Here’s another article from July 2015 published by In These Times, which has endorsed Bernie Sanders.


The Vermont-New York Heroin-and-Guns Carousel That Can Make Dealers a 1,400% Profit. The headline focuses on NYC, but Massachusetts is also a big part of the story.

Pssst. Want an unregistered semi-automatic handgun, some heroin and a way to make a 1,400 percent profit?

First, the gun. In Vermont, you can legally buy it through a “private” sale at a gun show, yard sale, online or from a dealer. Doesn’t matter if you’re a convicted murderer with a history of mental illness and a restraining order for domestic abuse. Anyone 16 or older with $600 can, for example, go to and arrange with a “private party” in Arlington, Vt., to pick up a “Zastava M92 PV 7.62 x 39 cal. semi auto pistol that has a 10 inch barrel, comes with 2 each 30 round clips.” The Serbian assault weapon is, the ad notes, the “very cool … pistol version of the AK-47.”

Then, if you are willing to break the law, you can drive the weapon to New York, where semi-automatic handguns are banned, and sell it for triple the Vermont price. You can invest the $1,800 in heroin. Back in Vermont, where heroin is in relatively short supply, you can resell it for five times the New York cost and garner $9,000—a quick 1,400 percent profit.

Guns a ridiculously easy to get in Vermont.

Vermont has some of the loosest gun laws in the country. You can legally buy 50-caliber sniper rifles with scopes, sawed-off shotguns, semiautomatic pistols that can kill a moose, and armor-piercing bullets. No background check, no waiting period or limit on how many guns you can buy or own. You can use a false name and need no identification or registration. The magazine size is not restricted. And you can display the new gun on your hip or stuff it in your underpants for all the state cares. All legal. And as long as you “don’t know” the firearms will be used for criminal purposes, you can immediately resell the guns to a 21-year-old with racist insignias on his jacket, two prison escapees from upstate New York, a whacked-out drug dealer, a certified paranoid with a tinfoil hat, or a drunk 16-year-old (that’s the age to own a handgun without parental consent; there’s no age restriction on possessing a rifle or shotgun)….

We have seen that, like maple syrup, firearms cross state lines. One makes your pancakes delicious, the other fuels crime and murder. “Firearm traffickers travel to Vermont for the purchase of firearms from unlicensed sources and then travel back to more restrictive states,” Massachusetts Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Special Agent Christopher J. Arone tells In These Times. Vermont exports more guns per capita than any other New England state and ranks 16th nationwide. Hundreds of crime-linked guns originally purchased there have been recovered by out-of-state law enforcement.

Again, please read the whole thing. If Sanders were truly the courageous leader he claims to be, he should be able to have some influence on this situation. Instead, he simply accepts it because Vermont’s guns aren’t killing Vermonters–they are killing people in Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut and other nearby states.

Sportsmen! Quick! Get your automatic weapon while you can!

Sportsmen! Quick! Get your automatic weapon while you can!

Bernie’s cowardly stance on guns is beginning to get more attention as we approach the New York primary on April 19, and I hope he will be forced to answer some tough questions about they way his own state is contributing to crime in other states and his state’s absence of serious gun laws is leading to hundreds of deaths from heroin in Vermont.

Politico: Families of mass shooting victims sound off on Sanders.

At a heated press conference outside of City Hall in New York City on Friday, families of those affected by mass shootings urged the Vermont senator to apologize for his recent comments on guns, reiterating calls that some of them said were previously unanswered and dismissed….

Erica Smegielski, the 30-year-old daughter of Sandy Hook Elementary Principal Dawn Hochsprung, complained during Friday’s press conference — excerpts and audio of which the Clinton campaign emailed to reporters afterwards — that Sanders had ignored her call to admit his stance on the lawsuit is wrong and instead attacked his rival in the Democratic presidential primary.

“It is so shameful that you ignored my call for an apology and when pushed by a reporter, instead of responding to me, you attacked Hillary Clinton,” Smegielski said.

Sandy Phillips, who lost her daughter Jessica Ghawi during the mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado, in July 2012, said that Sanders had treated her family disrespectfully during a phone call.

“Bernie promised to meet with us face to face,” she said about Sanders, who has been campaigning in New York. “We did have a telephone conversation, he was 15 minutes late to that telephone conversation. The first thing he had the nerve to say to my husband was ‘I’m very busy,’” she said. “Well Senator Sanders, we had been busy too. We had been busy burying our daughter.”

“Because of Bernie Sanders and others who voted like him, I and other Sandy Hook families are waiting for justice,” said Jillian Soto, who lost her sister Victoria at Sandy Hook. “I believe Remington acted irresponsibly and should be held accountable. I deserve for a jury to determine that, not the politicians in Washington, like Bernie Sanders.”

“Remington and others designed and executed an immoral marketing campaign that specifically targets violent-prone, military-obsessed young men and the result is both predictable and deadly,” she added. “Our families want the marketers, distributors, and sellers of the AR-15 held accountable for what happened at Sandy Hook. We want these profit-hungry to pay for their reckless marketing decision to stop targeting violent-prone young men as their ideal consumers.”

Read the rest at Politico.

I know there is much more interesting news today. What stories are you following? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread, and have a relaxing weekend.

Lazy Saturday Reads: Mary Cassatt’s Mothers and Children (Plus News)

Reine Lefebre And Margot Before A Window, Mary Cassatt

Reine Lefebre And Margot Before A Window, Mary Cassatt

Happy Weekend!

The best way to have a happy weekend might be to go into a cocoon and isolate yourself from the outside world and the ugly things that are happening in it. Unfortunately, I don’t know if I can bring myself to do it. I’ve become addicted to knowing what’s going on out there.

What has really been bugging me for the past couple of days is the way law enforcement agencies and the media refuse to label even horrendously violent acts like the attack on Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs “terrorism.”

It seems the only events that get that designation are those involving Muslim attackers. In my estimation a violent attack that kills and injures a number of people and “terrifies” the surrounding community should be called terrorism, because that’s exactly what it is.

How can the attacks on abortion clinics not be “terrorism” when they obviously are designed specifically to frighten doctors, nurses, and other health care workers into not getting involved in reproductive health care and women into not having abortions?

What is “Terrorism” and What Isn’t?

Mary Cassatt Mother nursing baby

Here’s the official explanation from NPR: Why the Planned Parenthood shooting isn’t legally referred to as ‘domestic terrorism.’

To some in the community, the attack resembled an act of domestic terrorism, sparking a debate over what to call Robert Lewis Dear’s rampage even before he was taken into custody.

But the legal system may not resolve that question.

Dear faces state charges of first-degree murder, and the federal criminal code has no specific, catchall charge for acts of domestic terrorism. That means federal prosecutors pursuing charges for ideologically motivated violence often turn to other statutes — such as those for firearms, explosives, hate crimes or murder — to cover offenses that could arguably be labeled as terror. The punishment may be the same, but generally without the branding more typically associated with international terrorism.

“There has long been some interest in defining acts of domestic terrorism as terrorism. It’s become quite a partisan issue,” said William Yeomans, an American University law fellow and former high-ranking official in the Justice Department’s civil rights division.

But given the number of laws already available to federal prosecutors, he added, “Whether it’s domestic terrorism or not, it doesn’t really matter.”

Mary Cassatt - Mother and Sara Admiring the Baby

Mary Cassatt – Mother and Sara Admiring the Baby

Well then the definition needs to be changed, because focusing only on acts by people of one particular religion–Islam–is going to lead to terrorist attacks against Muslims, whether they get the label “terrorism” from the FBI or not. Saying it doesn’t matter is just plain stupid. It matters.

Melissa McEwan at Shakesville:

I didn’t need to know a thing about Syed Rizwan Farook’s and Tashfeen Malik’s religious beliefs or political ideologies to know that this was an act of terrorism, because I fail to understand how we can legally define one or more people picking up weapons and opening fire on civilians as anythingbut an act of terror, irrespective of their reasons.

(Unless it happens in a war zone, in which case it is a war crime and an act of terror.)

And I have a real goddamn problem with the fact that it only became “officially” an act of terrorism once they were connected to a particular religion and particular ideology, but had it been another religion and another ideology, it just would have been the inexplicable actions of mad people.

This selective elevation to a terrorist act of only certain religions and ideologies is harmful. And the people it harms the most are those who broadly share identifying traits with the elevated terrorists.

Our government is being deeply hypocritical when it urges bigots not to blame all Muslims for acts of terror committed by Muslims, but refuses to identify as acts of terror the same sort of crimes committed, for the same ugly reasons, by Christians. If the government doesn’t want all Muslims smeared as terrorists, then it needs to stop limiting to Muslims its elevation to terrorism of religiously-motivated mass murder

Here’s another example. This white guy isn’t a threat to anyone, according to law enforcement.

Breakfast in Bed, Mary Cassatt

Breakfast in Bed, Mary Cassatt

NY Daily News: Police find 8,300 rounds of ammo, assault rifle and body armor in home of Long Island man who impersonated Air Marshal.

He had a fake federal air marshal ID in one pocket, a Ruger .380-caliber pistol in the other and was driving around Long Island with ballistic body armor and a loaded AR-15 assault rifle. He also had an arsenal of weapons at his gated home.

But don’t worry folks, Mark Vicars wasn’t a threat to anyone, Nassau County officials insisted Friday.

The amount of firepower is comparable to what terror couple Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik had during the massacre they committed Wednesday in San Bernardino, Calif.

“At this time we don’t see any immediate threat to the public,” Nassau County Police Department spokesman Det. Lt. Richard LeBrun told reporters.

Seven illegal firearms, three high-capacity magazines and 8,300 rounds of ammunition were found in the 49-year-old’s SUV and Syosset home after an exhaustive search, police confirmed.

Yet cops don’t believe that Vicars was up to anything nefarious — except for masquerading as a federal agent.

“We don’t see any nexus to any terrorism at this time,” LeBrun said, adding that no anti-American literature or links to terrorism were found at his home.

Mother_Berthe holding her baby, Mary Cassett

Mother_Berthe holding her baby, Mary Cassett

This idiotic labeling situation must be remedied, and we need to pressure our elected representatives and the White House to get it done.

The Media Sucks

Anyway, the media clearly has forgotten about the people who were killed and injured by a fanatic in Colorado Springs, because they now have Muslim attackers and their families to examine in disgusting detail.

In their rush to get “scoops,” MSNBC forced their way (along with other reporters) into the apartment that was occupied by the two deceased shooters in the San Bernardino massacre and showed images of personal property and information belonging to family members on live TV.

Mashable: Journalists storm San Bernardino shooters’ apartment after landlord pries open door.

In a surreal scene, a swarm of local and national media entered the apartment where San Bernardino shooters Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik lived after the landlord tore off a piece of plywood that was blocking the door.

News outlets, including MSNBC, BBC, CBS News and CNN, broadcast live scenes as reporters toting cameras and microphones pushed through the open door and reported from inside the apartment in Redlands, California.

One MSNBC reporter was seen examining items left on the suspects’ desk, at one point picking up a child-rearing book. CNN journalists described seeing driver’s licenses, social security cards and shredded documents inside the residence. A group of photographers zeroed in on a pile of papers that were laid out on a bed.

The Family, Mary Cassatt

The Family, Mary Cassatt

What the hell?!

Another camera crew panned over a crib; the couple had a 6-month-old daughter. A CNN correspondent picked up prayer beads.

It appeared that members of the public were inside the apartment as well. One man lingered holding a large soda. A child was seen wandering throughout the home. Another opened the refrigerator and peered inside.

MSNBC even showed ID cards and family photographs on camera. According to the landlord, he didn’t invite the media in. “They rushed,” he said. Fortunately, the FBI later said they had cleared the apartment and it was no longer an active crime scene.

Slate’s Justin Peters says that good reporters should grab opportunities like this one, but still had some harsh words for MSNBC.

MSNBC Was Right to Enter the Shooters’ Apartment. They did what good reporters do: poke around.

During the walk through the apartment, which producers said was opened to the media by the couple’s landlord, a NBC News reporter held up photos of unidentified children, a bank document, and a driver’s license on live television.

As MSNBC’s Kerry Sanders walked through the apartment, where police had earlier recovered 12 pipe bombs and more than 1,400 rounds of ammunition, he expressed disbelief that the killers would have toys and stuffed animals for their young child.

The apartment was crowded by camera crews and other journalists all digging through the home. Sanders eventually found a pile of family photos, including what appeared to be passport photos of an unidentified woman, which he promptly suggested were the first images of Malik seen by the public.

“I’m going to guess these are the photographs of Malik. So this is the first – this may be – OK,” he said on air. “But we don’t know. We don’t know if that’s her.”

Maternal Caress, Mary Cassatt

Maternal Caress, Mary Cassatt


Andrea Mitchell encouraged Sanders to hold one photo up and get a “tight shot” of other pictures, including a portrait of a woman in traditional dress, as Sanders continued to guess where and for what occasion the photos were taken.

“Let’s make sure we don’t see the children, let’s not show the child,” a clearly uncomfortable Mitchell eventually interjected. “Let’s cut away from that.”

In a bedroom where credit cards and IDs were shown spread out on a bed, the camera quickly zoomed in on a California driver’s license. MSNBC did not appear to blur out a woman’s personal details as Sanders read the name on the driver’s license.

I think I’m going to be sick. MSNBC “apologized” after it was too late to protect innocent children and other family members who were not involved in the shooting. TPM:

After MSNBC treated viewers on Friday to a live look inside the San Bernardino shooters’ apartment, the network said they “regret” showing photos of children and identification cards during the live broadcast.

While the apartment was thick with camera crews and journalists all rifling through Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeem Malik’s Redlands, California home, MSNBC was the most heavily criticized for its broadcast. NBC News reporter Kerry Sanders showed close-up photos of children and held up a women’s driver’s license during the live shot.

Read the statement at TPM if you’re interested.

I’ll add some more links in the comment thread. What stories are you following today?

Sunday Reads: “That’s All!”

38b54cfdad0b997f771d5740f23d7444Good Afternoon

Today’s post is brought to you by Annette Hanshaw.…”The Personality Girl” who’s famous sign off was, “That’s all!”

Her singing style was relaxed and suited to the new jazz-influenced pop music of the late 1920s. Although she had a low opinion of her own singing, she continued to have fans because she combined the voice of an ingenue with the spirit of a flapper. Hanshaw was known as “The Personality Girl,” and her trademark was saying “That’s all” in a cheery voice at the end of many of her records.[1]


You can listen to 50 of Annette’s songs here on YouTube:

And I found this interesting tidbit, take a look at a larger image here Bixography Forum:



8691d30e64b0523acc3c97facf2fc82cPictures are from Pinterest and the website, The Jazz Age: Annette Hanshaw. That particular site has a plethora of information, pictures and links to a ton of 1920’s Jazz Music…give it a few hours of your time.

Also, a list of films and recordings can be found here at Red Hot Jazz: Annette Hanshaw

Since this post is so very late, I am going to share the links via dump style.

Egypt sets Oct election date, after three years without parliament | Reuters

Egypt will hold a long-awaited parliamentary election, starting on Oct. 18-19, the election commission said on Sunday, the final step in a process to bring back democracy that critics say has been tainted by widespread repression.

Egypt has been without a parliament since June 2012 when a court dissolved the democratically elected main chamber, dominated by the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood, reversing a major accomplishment of the 2011 uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak.


The government says the election is proof of Egypt’s commitment to democracy.

2154a700598a4bcde500d234f179ea1cIn the absence of parliament, Sisi has wielded legislative authority to curtail political freedoms but also introduced economic reforms.

“The question will remain: will this parliament be an effective check and balance against the executive? There are some signs it may, due to the likely prevalence of big-business interests within it, be argumentative on issues pertaining to economic policy,” said H.A. Hellyer, nonresident fellow at the Brookings Center for Middle East Policy in Washington.

“But on issues of political reform, legislative reform, or security sector reform, there probably won’t be much appetite to affect much change from within this forthcoming parliament.”

The Migrant Crisis is building in Europe….

Calls for Action on Refugees After Austria Tragedy | Al Jazeera America

In a bid to forge a more unified stance across the 28-member union, it was agreed Sunday that a special meeting of EU interior and justice ministers would take place on Sept. 14. It is likely that more deaths would have occurred by then. On Sunday, seven more people were added to the tally of those killed trying to make it to mainland Europe after a boat carrying refugees sank off Libya’s coast.

c6b199247f56eda97b1d7745d94fe1c8The latest diplomatic push for a solution came as Hungarian police announced that a fifth suspected human trafficker had been arrested over Thursday’s gruesome discovery of 71 decomposing corpses in an abandoned vehicle on an Austrian motorway. Meanwhile, three children saved from another vehicle left the hospital presumably, authorities said, to join their parents as they attempt to travel on to Germany — a popular destination for refugees.

The truck tragedy, plus yet another shipwreck off the Libyan coast that claimed at least 111 lives, have served as chilling reminders of Europe’s failure to cope with the hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing conflict at home.

Europe trades blame as migrants’ bodies pulled from Mediterranean | Reuters

4d3d3ca59e025aa9189ed28ef4d74b26The Balkans are now the centre of Europe’s people smuggling web | World news | The Guardian

Only a day after 71 people suffocated in a chicken lorry, three children were rescued from a crammed truck in Austria. All had been on a perilous road route controlled by criminal gangs

Migrant crisis: Syrian children disappear from Austrian hospital – BBC News

Police in Austria say three Syrian children and their families who were rescued from a minivan containing 26 migrants have disappeared from the hospital where they were being treated.

The children were taken to hospital in the town of Braunau am Inn on Friday suffering from severe dehydration.

Their discovery came a day after 71 bodies, thought to be migrants, were found on a dumped lorry in Austria.

Several European countries have called for urgent talks on the migrant crisis.

23cd93e11d5420e06a5f91bf85aa315aIn other foreign news: News agency criticised for describing Amal Clooney as ‘actor’s wife’ in coverage of human rights trial – People – News – The Independent

A respected news organisation has come under fire after referring to human rights lawyer Amal Clooney as an “actor’s wife” in their coverage of a court case.

The Associated Press tweeted an article about three Al Jazeera journalists convicted of “spreading false news” and sentenced to prison in Egypt. They wrote: “Amal Clooney, actor’s wife, representing Al-Jazeera journalist accused in Egypt of ties to extremists.”

Ms Clooney is a barrister with Doughty Street Chambers, specialising in human rights law. She read law at the University of Oxford, before obtaining a postgraduate degree from the New York University School of Law.

She has worked for the UN, contributed to books on international criminal law and lectured at a number of prestigious law schools, a point many people on social media were quick to point out.

48ab9d3eb6e8f4b304f22d42c323638bVatican’s No. 1 Pervert Priest Dies Suddenly in Vatican City – The Daily Beast

That headline should be enough for you…

After raping boys and keeping child porn at the Vatican, Josef Wesolowski was set to stand trial for his sins. Now his fate will be left to a higher power.
VATICAN CITY — Josef Wesolowski died too soon. The 67-year-old former papal nuncio to the Dominican Republic, whose undeniable crimes of child-sex abuse ran the gamut from victimizing shoeshine boys in Santo Domingo to hoarding more than 100,000 files with child pornography inside Vatican City, died in his private room in a Vatican City palazzo overnight.An autopsy was ordered to confirm his cause of death, which was said to be from natural causes.  No foul play is suspected, according to a Vatican statement no doubt meant to stifle conspiracy theorists. It read simply: “Vatican authorities quickly carried out the first investigation and have established that the death was caused by natural causes.”

3ead08e88198d806f2f2fb2c8befa236Next up, stories here in the USA:

When Calling The Police On An Abusive Partner Leads To A Victim Losing Her Home | ThinkProgress

The Best And Worst States For Women’s Equality In America, Because This Country Still Has A Long Way To Go | Bustle

Kyle Jean-Baptiste, Actor in ‘Les Misérables,’ Dies at 21 –

Addicting Info – Josh Duggar’s ‘Rehab’ Is Run By A Pastor Who Protected A Predator From Prosecution

Robert Reich (How the Right Wing is Killing Women)

According to a report released last week in the widely-respected health research journal, The Lancet, the United States now ranks 60th out of 180 countries on maternal deaths occurring during pregnancy and childbirth.

To put it bluntly, for every 100,000 births in America last year, 18.5 women died. That’s compared to 8.2 women who died during pregnancy and birth in Canada, 6.1 in Britain, and only 2.4 in Iceland.

67caa780d57420e372562782afa414a5A woman giving birth in America is more than twice as likely to die as a woman in Saudi Arabia or China.


These Two Cases Reveal America’s Deeply Racist Justice System

Earlier this month, Jared Fogle, the now former Subway pitchman, reached an agreement with prosecutors to plead guilty to multiple counts of commercial sex acts with a minor (see: child rape) and obtaining child pornography of twelve other children as young as 6 years old.

For victimizing fourteen children since 2007, he will serve as little as five years in prison and is currently at his home in rural Indiana wearing a monitoring anklet while awaiting sentencing.

dc253dd6c7432846b16afd7244b7d9d2Meanwhile, in downtown Baltimore, Allen Bullock is set to go to trial tomorrow for smashing a traffic cone through the windshield of a police car during the protests that occurred after the death of Freddie Gray. He is being charged with malicious destruction of property and rioting, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Bullock is currently free on $500,000 bail, which is more than the six police officers charged with the murder of Freddie Gray. The state is making no effort to hide it’s desire to make an example of Bullock to dissuade other citizens from engaging in acts of civil disobedience.

“I think the $500,000 he’s released on is an example of the arbitrary and capricious nature of our bail system,” said Maryland state delegate Jill P. Carter. “It’s an example of the grave disparities in our justice system.”

e544dfd5aacc47ad1b08ddbf12357c38The comparison of how the two cases are dealt with is disturbing, take this situation too:

Young Black Man Dies In Jail After Allegedly Stealing $5 Worth Of Candy And Soda | ThinkProgress

Another young black man has died in jail, the Guardian reports, after spending four months in jail without bail for allegedly stealing $5 worth of snacks: a Mountain Dew, a Snickers bar and a Zebra Cake.

Jamycheal Mitchell, 24, had bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, according to his aunt, and was deemed unfit to stand trial after being arrested in Portsmouth, Virginia on April 22. That should have meant he would be transferred to a mental health facility, but the hospital had no beds available. Instead, he ended up in jail.

His family told the Guardian they believed Mitchell starved to death because he was refusing food and medication in the jail. He was found dead in his cell on August 19.

bc4560b748284411be56a907c6e78e81“He was just deteriorating so fast,” Mitchell’s aunt told the Guardian. “I kept calling the jail, but they said they couldn’t transfer him because there were no available beds. So I called Eastern State, too, and people there said they didn’t know anything about the request or not having bed availability.”


Why Do You Weep? Blingee Lives! Your Saturday Nerdout – Wonkette

We wasted several minutes being annoyed at the sort of zero-tolerance bureaucratic thinking that resulted in a little girl’s parents being sent a warning that her Wonder Woman lunchbox was banned by her school’s policy against violent images. Supposedly, the girl’s parents received this note regarding the lunch box:


wonder woman lunchbox letter


92e1805c85da2282eface2d94c9868beWTF. Now, Wonkette says that they have yet to be able to verify whether the lunchbox note is real or a hoax….so take it for what it is worth.

Addicting Info – Josh Duggar’s ‘Rehab’ Is Run By A Pastor Who Protected A Predator From Prosecution

It’s about time young women get credit for their feminism | Jessica Valenti | Comment is free | The Guardian

6 Signs You Were Raised By A Feminist | Bustle

bb30251fb58568f66b1cc96fa7b4bb4cBillionaire Republican Who Mocked Hillary Clinton’s Marriage Had an Ashley Madison Account

Long-held theory on human gestation refuted: Mother’s metabolism, not birth canal size, limits gestation — ScienceDaily

I loved what Hillary said here: Shakesville: YES

Hillary Clinton went all in on the Republicans and their institutional misogyny yesterday during a speech in Cleveland:

Now, extreme views about women, we expect that from some of the terrorist groups, we expect that from people who don’t want to live in the modern world, but it’s a little hard to take from Republicans who want to be the president of the United States. Yet they espouse out-of-date, out-of-touch policies. They are dead wrong for 21st century America. We are going forward; we are not going back.

sm-A Sweet Beginning Like ThisI would like these Republican candidates to look the mom in the eye who caught her breast cancer early because she was able to get a screening for cancer or the teenager who didn’t get pregnant because she has access to contraception. Or anyone who has ever been protected by an HIV test.

This is happening all over the country, even here in Ohio. Programs and services women use to take care of themselves are being cut down.

I take it a little personal when they go after women.

Hell fucking yes.

100 homeless people were given disposable cameras, this is what they shot – News – Art – The Independent

SM-I'm Sure Of Everything But YouPat Bagley is starting a serial cartoon, check it out: Bagley Cartoon: Joe Hill, His Story (Part 1) | The Salt Lake Tribune

Medieval Jokes

Did medieval people tell jokes? While it might seem that the Middle Ages was a time of being devout and serious, there was also laughter and mirth. We can find many works that were meant to be funny more than anything else, and even in chronicles you can find stories of kings and bishops who would be laughing at some foolish joke.

What did medieval people find funny? Much of the humour can be described as rude and crude: jokes about sex or bodily functions seem to be very popular. The targets of the jokes might be foolish husbands or bad wives, the local priest, a king, or even historical figures.

One of the best known joke books of the Middle Ages is the Facetiae by Poggio Bracciolini (1380-1459). Poggio was an Italian scholar who spent most of his career working for the Papacy, but he also wrote about a wide number of topics and was seen as one of the brightest minds of his time. He explains that he wrote the Facetiae because “it is proper, and almost a matter of necessity commended by philosophers, that our mind, weighed down by a variety of cares and anxieties, should now and then enjoy relaxation from its constant labour, and be incited to cheerfulness and mirth by some humorous recreation.”

A few jokes can be found at the link.

Must-see: Stunning supermoon shines in the night sky |


More pictures at the link.

Sorry again this is so late, I over slept and then…it just took me longer to get my shit together.

Post what you like of course…..

Lazy Saturday Reads

Harriet Tubman memorial in Boston's South End

Harriet Tubman memorial in Boston’s South End

Happy Saturday!!

Once again, I’ve spent my early morning hours looking at pictures–this time I have a collection of Boston statues to share–there are gazillions of them here! I’ve got news too, of course.

Last week I wrote a post about a rape trial in Concord, New Hampshire. The case highlighted a culture of misogyny and sexual assault at St. Paul’s, an exclusive private boarding school. Well, the verdict is in.

The jury found Owen Labrie not guilty of aggravated rape, but they convicted him of several other charges, which could still result in jail time. NYT:

…after about seven hours of deliberations over two days, the jury appeared to dismiss Mr. Labrie’s insistence that he had not penetrated the girl in any way, but found that the state had not proved that what happened was against the girl’s expressed wishes.

The nine men and three women rejected the more serious accusations of aggravated sexual assault, as well as a misdemeanor assault charge of biting the girl’s chest, but convicted Mr. Labrie of three misdemeanors related to the girl’s age and involving penetration with his penis, mouth and finger. He was also convicted of endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor, and a felony charge involving use of a computer to lure a minor.

It seemed, one expert said, to be a compromise among the jurors.

The conviction on using a computer to abuse a child means Labrie will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

Edgar Allen Poe statue near Boston Common

Edgar Allen Poe statue near Boston Common

Boston Globe: As victim in prep-school case feared, the jury didn’t think she did enough.

In the end, the jury believed her. Owen Labrie had sex with her when she was just 15.

But just like she feared, they didn’t think she did enough to stop him.

Over three days of testimony, the now 16-year-old girl described her encounter with one of the more popular seniors on the campus of her elite New Hampshire prep school last year. She described how Labrie, then 18, invited her to a rendezvous in a secluded St. Paul’s School building. She told of kissing him, of taking off her sweatshirt and then her shorts. And then feeling everything go way too far.

His fingers were inside her, then his tongue, then his penis. He wasn’t getting the message when she pulled her bra strap back on, held onto her underpants, pulled his head away from between her legs as she said no repeatedly, she said. She said she winced and stiffened as he penetrated her.

She should have never left her room that night, she thought, as she stared up at the ceiling and waited for it to end.

“If I had just been able to kick or yell at him,” she testified. “If I just had been able to get the point across. To push or do something. I could have stopped it.”

Statue of Bill Russell at City Hall Plaza

Statue of Bill Russell at City Hall Plaza

So they believed Labrie penetrated her when she was under the age of consent, but they still thought it was consensual? I don’t understand that.

At Slate, Mark Joseph Stern explains: The Odd Sexual-Consent Law That Explains the Bizarre Owen Labrie Verdict.

Like many states, New Hampshire has a “Romeo and Juliet” exception to statutory rape. Such exceptions allows individuals to have sex with minors if they are close in age. These laws are designed to allow teens to engage in consensual sex without fear of prosecution. Florida provides a good example: There, the Romeo and Juliet law creates a four-year bubble, so that an 18-year-old can legally have sex with a 14-year-old, but a 19-year-old cannot.

New Hampshire’s law follows this model—with a twist. It sets a hard age of consent at 13: Before then, all sex is illegal. After 13, the rules change. It isn’t illegal to engage in consensual non-penetrative sexual contact with an individual between ages 13 and 16 unless you are at least five years older than the younger person. (Think necking and fondling.) It is always illegal, however, to engage in penetrative sexual contact with any individual between ages 13 and 16. (16 is the universal age of consent in the state.)

Here, the Romeo and Juliet law only affects the severity of the punishment. If you have penetrative consensual sex with an individual between ages 13 and 16 but are within four years of age, you are guilty of misdemeanor sexual assault. If the age difference is more than four years, you’re guilty of felony sexual assault.

Labrie was 18 when he allegedly put his penis, tongue, and finger in a 15-year-old’s vagina. The jury did not find that the girl resisted, so he isn’t guilty of felony rape. But he still had penetrative sex with a girl under 16, the jury believed. Thus, Labrie is guilty on three counts of misdemeanor sexual assault, one for each form of penetration.

A couple more links:

Boston Globe: Owen Labrie and the ‘nerd defense’

Boston Globe: Prep-school rape trial: Read statements from the victim’s family, St. Paul’s School, and Harvard College.

The Boston Women's Memorial celebrates three important contributors to Boston's rich history - Abigail Adams, Lucy Stone, and Phillis Wheatley. Each of these women had progressive ideas that were ahead of her time, was committed to social change, and left a legacy through her writings that had a significant impact on history.

The Boston Women’s Memorial celebrates three important contributors to Boston’s rich history – Abigail Adams, Lucy Stone, and Phillis Wheatley. Each of these women had progressive ideas that were ahead of her time, was committed to social change, and left a legacy through her writings that had a significant impact on history.


I thought I’d share a heartwarming story with you for a change. My mom passed this one on to me.

IndyStar: Indianapolis radio contest sparks neighborhood feud in Muncie.

It wasn’t really a feud, just one nasty neighbor with no sense of humor.

High school student Hannah Brewer, with her mother’s permission, painted the garage door of their residence in an attempt to prove she is the biggest fan of the pop/punk band 5 Seconds of Summer, aka 5SOS.

“Get creative and prove you’re the biggest 5SOS fan on your garage door so the whole neighborhood can see it!” the radio station said in announcing the competition. “Color, paint, decorate … whatever you can think of! Just make sure we can see RadioNOW 100.9 … somewhere” on the door.

The winner will receive tickets to the band’s Aug. 22 concert and get to meet the four members backstage at Klipsch Music Center.

Statue of Col. William Prescott at the Bunker Hill Monument. Famous quote: "Don't shoot till you see the whites of their eyes!"

Statue of Col. William Prescott at the Bunker Hill Monument. Famous quote: “Don’t shoot till you see the whites of their eyes!”

Hannah and her friend Morgan Whitmer worked on the garage door mural together “painting images of the band members, a message reading, “5SOS is kinda hot!” a skull, an astronaut and other things on the door.” An anonymous neighbor was so scandalized that she wrote the ridiculous letter:

Soon after that, an anonymous letter titled “A NOTE FROM YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD” was left in Brewer’s front door at 3305 W. Oaklyn Ave.

It said, “At first we all thought you had been a victim of vandalism on your garage, seeing how NOTHING like that has ever happened around here before … In case you haven’t noticed this isn’t LA or Chicago or Mexico and it certainly isn’t south Muncie.

“There is discussion of getting up a petition, calling the newspaper and retaining a lawyer in case you don’t do the right thing over the ghetto painting … We are all sorry we have had to do this but nobody has ever treated this neighborhood in a trashy manner!”

The author of the letter left another copy of it in the front door on another day.

Hannah’s mother Carrie Mote Craig, a teacher, called the police and learned there was nothing illegal about the painting. One police officer even came to their house and posed for a picture in front of the garage door. Craig then sent an explanatory letter to all of the neighbors and the girls ended up getting tons of support and lots of people stopping by to look at the painting.

Statue of Mary Dyer, who "challenged traditional Puritanism with her progressive beliefs," and was put to death for it.

Statue of Mary Dyer, who “challenged traditional Puritanism with her progressive beliefs,” and was put to death for it.

Well, it turned out that Hannah wasn’t eligible for the radio station contest, because she doesn’t live in Indianapolis. But when the station heard the story, the girls still got tickets and a chance to meet their favorite band.  Indy Star:

RadioNOW 100.9’s afternoon drive host Mike Klein and midday host Hunter personally delivered the good news to Brewer, a high school senior, at her place of work (Wendy’s) on Wednesday night.

“She didn’t actually win the contest,” Max Williams, marketing director at Indianapolis-based RadioNOW, said. “The reason why is she lives in Muncie, which is technically not part of our market. She was not even eligible to win according to the contest rules.”

However, “because of everything that happened and the extra exposure she got for us it is definitely worth her getting to meet the band,” Williams said. “The record label thought it was great extra attention to their band. They loved it, so we were able to secure the extra meet and greet and tickets. They won some pretty decent seats and will get to go backstage prior to the show and meet the band.”

It’s just a small story, but it gave me a good feeling, so I thought I’d share it.

How about some politics? I know, ugh. But there is some political news about Democrats today that isn’t about Emailghazi.

National Journal: At DNC Meeting, Hillary Clinton’s Quiet Moves Are the Ones that Matter.

MINNEAPOLIS—Hillary Clinton publicly bashed her Republican presidential rivals in the cavernous hotel ballroom here Friday, but her bigger accomplishment at the Democratic National Committee summer meeting was what her campaign was doing privately.

At a meet-and-greet at a nearby office tower, in small group sessions, and in one-on-ones behind closed doors at the meeting hotel, Clinton and her top staff worked the 700 or so “superdelegates” who will help choose the next Democratic nominee for firm commitments.

“They’re working really hard to solidify their count going in,” said Florida DNC member Alma Gonzalez. “It is a continual and consistent push.”

“This is really about how you put the numbers together to secure the nomination,” Clinton said at a brief news conference. She said the effort springs from one of the lessons learned from her failed run in 2008, when then-Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign took advantage of party rules to win more delegates even when failing to win the primary vote in a particular state.

“I got lot of votes, but I didn’t get enough delegates, and so I think it’s understandable that my focus is going to be on delegates as well as votes this time,” she said. “I’m very encouraged by the kind of response that I’m getting.”

Statue of immortal pitcher Cy Young near the campus of Northeastern University

Statue of immortal pitcher Cy Young near the campus of Northeastern University

Two more links on this:

Bloomberg: Clinton Camp Says One-Fifth of Delegates Secured for Nomination.

Politico: Democratic elite rally around Hillary Clinton.

Naturally, other candidates were not happy.

Washington Post: Democratic challengers launch attacks against Clinton, party leadership.

What began as a routine forum of candidate speeches evolved into a surprisingly dramatic day at the Democratic National Committee’s summer meeting, as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley issued thinly veiled attacks on Clinton and the party leadership.

Speaking from the dais, with DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz sitting a few feet away, O’Malley blasted the party’s limited number of sanctioned debates as a process “rigged” in favor of the front-runner. The DNC is holding six debates, only four before February’s first caucuses in Iowa, which O’Malley argued is a disadvantage for all the candidates and a disservice to Democrats generally.

“This sort of rigged process has never been attempted before,” said O’Malley, who has struggled to gain traction in the polls. He added: “We are the Democratic Party, not the undemocratic party.”

Sanders — who later told reporters he agreed with O’Malley — lamented low Democratic turnout in last year’s midterm elections and said the party must grow beyond “politics as usual” if it hopes to produce the level of voter enthusiasm required to retain the White House in 2016.

“We need a movement which takes on the economic and political establishment, not one which is part of that establishment,” said Sanders, who is an independent but caucuses with Democrats in the Senate.

Asked later whether he was speaking specifically about Clinton, he told reporters, “I’ll let you use your imagination on that.”

Tough shit. Obama was completely ruthless in 2008, and it worked. I’m glad Hillary is following his lead.

Statue of Paul Revere with the Old North Church in the background.

Statue of Paul Revere with the Old North Church in the background.

More news, links only:

Did you see Peggy Noonan’s latest word salad? Wall Street Journal: America is So in Play, and commentary from Gawker: Peggy Noonan’s Dominican Friend, Cesar, Works at the Deli Counter. Good for a laugh.

CNN: Church says Donald Trump is not an ‘active member’.

Meteor Blades at DailyKos: Clinton’s support for 50-state strategy the right move for any Democratic candidate.

Washington Post: Texas sheriff’s deputy ambushed in ‘execution-style killing’ at gas station.

LA Times: Manson family member Bruce Davis found eligible for parole.

LA Times: Bison attack: Man ‘played dead’ to escape after being gored.

From Vox, a very good long read: Tech nerds are smart. But they can’t seem to get their heads around politics.

The Independent: Study reveals that a lot of psychology research really is just ‘psycho-babble’ (um . . . not quite what the study says)

Washington Post: No, science’s reproducibility problem is not limited to psychology.

So . . . what stories are you following today? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a terrific weekend!

Make Way for Ducklings statue in Boston Public Garden

Make Way for Ducklings statue in Boston Public Garden



Thursday Reads: Elite Boarding School Rape Culture

St. Paul's School in Concord, NH

St. Paul’s School in Concord, NH

Good Morning!!

I’ve been following the rape trial that is going on right now in New Hampshire. The testimony of the alleged victim of a rape at St. Paul’s School suggests that this exclusive private boarding school has an educational environment suffused with sexism, misogyny, and rape culture. We’ve all heard about the many colleges and universities where rape has been ignored and minimized. Is rape culture also widespread in secondary schools around the country? Probably, but at St. Paul’s the acceptance of sexual assault is apparently quite explicit.

I’m not sure how to frame this, so I’m going to begin with some early stories about the trial and go from there.

Associated Press: Rape case points to sordid tradition at elite prep school.

Aerial view of St. Paul's School

Aerial view of St. Paul’s School

St. Paul’s School boasts a glittering roster of alumni that includes senators, congressmen, a Nobel laureate and the current secretary of state. The elite prep school also allegedly has a sordid tradition of sexual conquest where graduating boys try to take the virginity of younger girls before getting their diplomas.

Details of a practice authorities say was called the “Senior Salute” were spelled out in stark terms by a former prefect at the New Hampshire school who is charged with raping a 15-year-old girl on the roof of a campus building in May 2014.

Owen Labrie, now 19, has pleaded not guilty to several felonies. When his trial begins Monday, prosecutors are expected to call current and former students to testify about the sexual culture at one of the country’s most selective boarding schools.

Labrie, of Tunbridge, Vermont, talked openly about the tradition when he was interviewed by Concord police. On a campus where upperclassmen studiously avoid their younger peers in most settings, Labrie told a detective some students “take great pride” in having sex with older students before they leave school.

Labrie also told the detective of a contest where boys compete to “score” with the most girls, keeping a running tally written in indelible marker on a wall behind washing machines. The school kept painting over the scoreboard so it eventually was moved online. He acknowledged to the detective he was “trying to be number one,” the detective wrote.

The New Chapel at St. Paul's School

The New Chapel at St. Paul’s School

The school administrators were well aware of this “tradition” and, according to one counselor, were “trying to educate students against ‘sexual scoring.'”

Excuse me? That sounds pretty weak. What happened to actually banning a practice and explicitly policing the behavior at time time it “traditionally” takes place?

Labrie was an outstanding student who had been accepted to Harvard until the rape accusations surfaced. Harvard now says he’s no longer listed as a student.

Labrie’s defense attorney is well-known and expensive Boston lawyer J.W. Carney, who also defended notorious gangster Whitey Bulger.

Some background on St. Paul’s School:

Founded in 1856, St. Paul’s is an Episcopal school nestled on 2,000 pastoral acres on the outskirts of downtown Concord, New Hampshire’s capital. It enrolls about 530 students and admitted girls for the first time in 1971. Tuition, room and board currently clocks in at $53,810.

The school belongs to the Eight Schools Association, a sort of Ivy League for prep schools that includes Choate Rosemary Hall and Hotchkiss in Connecticut, Phillips Academy Andover, Deerfield Academy and Northfield Mount Hermon School in Massachusetts, The Lawrenceville School in New Jersey and Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire.

Secretary of State John Kerry graduated from St. Paul’s in 1962, alongside former FBI Director Robert Mueller. Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau is an alum as are 13 U.S. ambassadors, three Pulitzer Prize winners, two World Series of Poker winners, actor Judd Nelson and sons of the Astor and Kennedy families, according to the school’s website.

The school also has a robust international presence: 17 percent of the 2014-15 class came from 25 countries and notable alums include Bernard Makihara, the former CEO of the Mitsubishi  Corporation, and Edmund Maurice Burke Roche, a conservative member of the British Parliament and the maternal grandfather of Diana, Princess of Wales.

Owen Labrie's mugshot

Owen Labrie’s mugshot

Labrie told police that he didn’t have sex with the alleged victim. Instead, he claims “in a moment of restraint” and “divine inspiration” he decided not to have intercourse with the 15-year-old girl even though she was “eager” to do so. He also explained that the girl lied because “it’s a “great source of pride for younger students” to have sex with seniors.

WTF?! Then why would she go through the nightmare of a trial in she knows she’ll be humiliated and shamed?

The Boston Globe: Prosecutor: St. Paul’s rape suspect talked about ‘slaying’ girls as part of hookup contest.

Prosecutors say Labrie arranged for a tryst with the girl at St. Paul’s School in a secluded machine room in a school building, prosecutors say he took it further than she wanted it to go.

took the stand late Tuesday afternoon, answering questions about her upbringing and how she ended up at St. Paul’s, where she enrolled as a freshman in 2013.

Today, the girl is testifying about what led to that night in the machine room. She initially rebuffed his message, thinking it was a form letter he sent to lots of girls.

Owen Labrie had been making a list of girls to hook up with months before a 15-year-old accused him of sexually assaulting her at their elite New England prep school, but her name was the only one written in capital letters, a prosecutor said Tuesday….

There was a game above it all: a storied hookup contest among the school’s upperclassmen called the “Senior Salute.” Labrie and his friends talked about “slaying” girls, with April and May referred to as SLAYpril and SLAY, Deputy Merrimack County Attorney Catherine J. Ruffle said.

“This case is about Owen Labrie sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl,” Ruffle said in her opening statement. “It’s about how he thought about this for months.

Prosecutor Catherine Ruffle delivers her opening arguments against Owen Labrie to the jury in the Merrimack County Superior Court, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2015, in Concord, N.H.(AP Photo/Jim Cole, Pool)

Prosecutor Catherine Ruffle delivers her opening arguments against Owen Labrie to the jury in the Merrimack County Superior Court, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2015, in Concord, N.H.(AP Photo/Jim Cole, Pool)

The girl testified on Tuesday and Wednesday and she was reportedly very emotional, describing her confusion, fear, and lack of control over what happened; but she also described how she felt responsible for what happened and, tried to soothe Labrie’s feelings. She didn’t want to cause an uproar, because her older sister was graduating from the school two days later and she (the victim) didn’t want to make it all about her.

NBC News: St. Paul’s School Rape Trial: Accuser Tells Court ‘I Felt Like I Couldn’t Say No.’

A 16-year-old girl who says she was raped at a prestigious New Hampshire prep school returned to the witness stand on Wednesday, recounting a secret date with an older boy that turned suddenly aggressive.

The girl described her confusion as he groped her in secluded room of a campus building at St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire in May 2014. “I felt like I was frozen,” she said through tears as she described the accused, Owen Labrie, kissing and biting her and trying to pull down her underwear.

As the groping continued, she said, “I felt like I had no control. I felt like I couldn’t say no.”

A little later, the girl said, she did say no. But as the alleged attack continued, she said she tried to zone out, looking at the ceiling and trying to ignore the pain. That continued through what she described as unwanted sexual intercourse, she said.

“I didn’t want to believe that this was happening to me,” the girl said under questioning from Deputy Merrimack County Attorney Catherine Ruffle.

Recent St. Paul's School graduate Owen Labrie, right, stands with one of his lawyers, J.W. Carney, as jurors view the school grounds, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2015, in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole, Pool)

Recent St. Paul’s School graduate Owen Labrie, right, stands with one of his lawyers, J.W. Carney, as jurors view the school grounds, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2015, in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole, Pool)

More from the Manchester Union Leader: 

The girl, who was 15 at the time, said Labrie, then 18, sent her what she considered to be a “senior salute,” an invitation from a senior to a girl in the lower classes for a meeting that could result in as little as a kiss or as much as sexual intercourse….

The young girl Labrie was pursuing said she knew of the tradition because her older sister was also a senior at St. Paul’s in 2014.

So her first reaction was to refuse, but Labrie sent an envoy, a friend of the girl, to plead his case and she succumbed to the flattery and agreed to meet him.

Part of the reason for agreeing was his claim to have keys to one of the buildings whose roof was off limits to students. She liked the idea of being able to see a view not available to most students.

She said she expected there would be kissing involved “but that’s all.”

But she was wrong.

She said he took her to the building rooftop, but then back inside the unlighted mechanical room.  There he started by kissing her, then, despite her efforts to stop him, he removed her bra and pants and sexually assaulted her.

She said at one point he laughed and said: “You are such a tease.”

When it was over, she said, “I couldn’t believe what had just happened to me.”

The girl said when Labrie was finished with her he left her  get dressed and go back to her dorm, where she met up with her girlfriends and told them what happened.

Deputy Merrimack County Attorney Catherine Ruffle had the girl read copies of email and Facebook messages between Labrie and herself, messages that were projected on a large screen for jurors.

The girl explained that her friends dictated the messages she sent to Labrie about him using protection.

St. Paul's School

St. Paul’s School

The text messages the girl sent to Labrie are the center of the defense case that she “was a “willing participant” in the sex. I’ll get to that in a minute. First a few more details on the assault from MSNBC:

“I felt like I was frozen,” the accuser said.

“I felt so scared,” she added. “I had no idea what was going on. I had never been put in a situation like that.”

Her second day on the witness stand, the girl continued recounting the events that led to the alleged assault….

The girl said that she and Labrie stood briefly on the roof, and that later, inside an industrial area. She said that the two began kissing and removed some clothing when Labrie became too aggressive, biting her chest and forcing himself on her.

The girl grew emotional as she recounted the intimate details of the encounter, responding to questions from the prosecutor as her family looked on from reserved seating, and telling the court that she didn’t kick or scream as the encounter went on.

“In that moment, I wasn’t strong enough,” the girl said.

She later told the court she said ‘no’ three times. “I don’t know how I could have made it more clear,” she said.

Owen Labrie's defense attorney Jaw W. Carney, left, gives his opening arguments as prosecutor Catherine Ruffle, lower right and Judge Larry Smukler listen Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2015, in Merrimack County Superior Court in Concord, N.H. Labrie is charged with raping a 15-year-old freshman at St. Paul's School on May 30, 2014, as part of a tradition known as the "Senior Salute" days before he graduated. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

Owen Labrie’s defense attorney Jaw W. Carney, left, gives his opening arguments Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2015, in Merrimack County Superior Court in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

The cross examination began yesterday and continues today. As I said above, the biggest problem for the prosecution is that this young girl was very focused on not making a scene or being “bitchy.” She was seemingly very concerned about upsetting Labrie or generally calling attention to herself. From the MNSNBC article cited above:

Still, the girl was pressed by prosecutor Catherine Ruffle, the Deputy Merrimack County Attorney, about an email exchange she had with Labrie after the incident, in which Labrie described her as “an angel.”

Reading from copies of the messages displayed on a courtroom projector, the girl told the court that she replied: “You’re quite an angel yourself, but would you mind keeping the events of this evening to yourself for now?”

Asked why she had called Labrie an angel, the girl said she was trying not to upset him.

“It was almost like I was sticking to the script that he was offering,” she said of his email. “I thought it would be rude otherwise to ignore it, or it would cause him to approach me again if I ignored it. I was afraid of him coming after me again.”

In subsequent messages over Facebook, the girl told the court, she asked Labrie if he wore a condom and he assured her he had, and inquired if she was taking birth control medication.

Owen Labrie in court

Owen Labrie in court

Just one last article, from The Boston Globe: Why was the prep school girl so nice to the man she says raped her?

To the defense attorneys of Owen Labrie, the now-19-year-old man accused of raping the girl last year on the campus of their prestigious New England prep school, the message and others like it are obvious evidence that she was not raped, that she was a willing participant in what happened in that dark room. Why else would she chat and giggle and seemingly flirt in some cases if what happened was rape and not a consensual encounter between two teens?

The explanation of the girl, now 16 and on the witness stand in a Concord, New Hampshire courtroom: She didn’t want to offend him. She was trying to be polite. She didn’t want to be “bitchy,” or a “withering little girl.”

And so her chats replying to him in cutesy French phrases, lamenting the loss of her favorite earring, calling him a good guy, paint a blurry picture of how she really felt after what she now calls a rape.

Personally, I can relate to what this girl says. She was only 15 and says she was a virgin.

Part of the reason why she agreed to Labrie’s emailed invitation for a “Senior Salute” on May 30, 2014 in the first place was out of fear she was too rude when she initially rebuffed him.

“I felt bad I’d sent such an attacking response back,” said the girl, who is not naming. “I thought that I was rude and that I was wrong and I had been wrong about everything.”

The girl knew the reason Labrie sent her a flowery email asking to spend time with her. Senior Salute was well known on campus as an attempt to hook up with as many people as possible before graduation. Prosecutors said Labrie and his friends made it a game, competing to see how many girls they could “slay” before they left school.

During the assault itself, she said, she was still thinking about him and his feelings. Right after telling him that no, she didn’t want his face between her legs, and pulling his face away, she laughed.

“I wanted to be easygoing,” she said. “I wanted to not cause a conflict. I didn’t want to come off as bitchy or … I didn’t want to cause any trouble.”

Wincing, walking back to her dorm, she told no one. She wouldn’t even tell her best friend, whom she sat with immediately after the encounter, what really happened. She didn’t want to burden her with her issues.

As she saw her sister graduate, and took her exams, she kept quiet. Her family wasn’t on campus to worry about her and her problems, they were there to celebrate her sister.

Read the rest at the link, if you can. I’ve already quoted too much.

So . . . What do you think? As always, this is an open thread.

Thursday Reads: A Mixed Bag of News

Girl reading on a stone porch, by Winslow Homer

Girl reading on a stone porch, by Winslow Homer

Good Morning!!

The images in this post are from the blog, Reading and Art. I don’t have any central theme this morning, just a mixed bag of news stories. beginning with damaging explosions in Tianjin, China.

CNN reports, Tianjin blasts: Dozens dead; areas of Chinese port city devastated.

You can see the devastation everywhere: in the hollowed out shells of barely-standing buildings, in the anguished faces of relatives waiting for news of loved ones, in the parade of scorched cars.

But what was it that set off the terrifying blasts that ripped through warehouses housing hazardous chemical materials, sending fireballs shooting across the sky and shaking tall buildings more than 2 miles away?

Hours later, amid the destruction in this northern Chinese port city of more than 13 million, the exact cause remained unclear.

A thick chemical odor hung in the air. Fires still burned in the waterfront industrial district where the explosions went off. And the grim toll kept mounting.

At least 44 people are confirmed dead, 12 firefighters among them, officials said Thursday. More than 500 are hospitalized, 52 with severe injuries. Dozens of firefighters are missing.

Local authorities suspended firefighting efforts Thursday because of a lack of information about the “dangerous goods” stored at the warehouse at the heart of the blasts, the state-run Xinhua news agency said.

CNN has dramatic photos at the link. A few more stories on the disaster:

Vice News: Video Emerges of Horrific Tianjin Explosion as Death Toll Rises.

USA Today, 12 firefighters among 50 dead in Chinese port city explosions.

This is a developing story, and it sounds like the death toll is likely to rise.

Girl reading under an oak tree, by Winslow Homer

Girl reading under an oak tree, by Winslow Homer

You’ve probably heard by now that Jimmy Carter has cancer that has spread from his liver to other organs.

Washington Post, Former president Jimmy Carter, 90, announces that he has cancer.

Former president Jimmy Carter announced Wednesday that he has cancer and will be undergoing treatment at Emory Healthcare in Atlanta.

Carter, 90, said the disease was discovered during recent liver surgery to remove “a small mass” and that the cancer “is now in other parts of my body.”

“I will be rearranging my schedule as necessary so I can undergo treatment by physicians at Emory Healthcare,” Carter said in a statement on the Carter Center Web site. “A more complete public statement will be made when facts are known, possibly next week.”

In a statement, President Obama said he and first lady Michelle Obama wished Carter “a full and fast recovery.”

“Our thoughts and prayers are with [wife] Rosalynn and the entire Carter family as they face this challenge with the same grace and determination that they have shown so many times before,” Obama said in a statement released by the White House. “Jimmy, you’re as resilient as they come, and along with the rest of America, we are rooting for you.”

The president also spoke with Carter on Wednesday evening to wish him “full and speedy recovery” and extended best wishes on behalf of himself and first lady Michelle Obama, White House spokesman Eric Schultz said.

According to NBC News, Carter said “a more complete public statement will be made when facts are known, possibly next week.”

Sunlight and shadow, by Winslow Homer

Sunlight and shadow, by Winslow Homer

Sweden has dropped some of its charges against Julian Assange.

Wall Street Journal, Sweden Runs Out of Time on Parts of Assange Probe.

STOCKHOLM—Swedish prosecutors on Thursday ran out of time to pursue two of four investigations into allegations of sexual assault against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been living at the Ecuadorean embassy in London since 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden for questioning.

Prosecutors said that probes into suspected unlawful coercion and sexual molestation would be dropped as the five-year limit that Swedish law allows for such charges to be brought has come to an end.

The five-year deadline for a second count of sexual molestation will be reached Aug. 18, prosecutors said. If the statute of limitation on that allegation also comes into effect, Mr. Assange would be left facing a single, more serious accusation of rape, over which prosecutors have until 2020 to question him….

Mr. Assange was accused of the crimes by two women during a visit to Sweden in August 2010. Prosecutors requested Mr. Assange return to Sweden from the U.K to face questioning.

The WikiLeaks founder, who denies the crimes, refused to return to Sweden, saying he feared he would extradited from Sweden to the U.S. where he could face trial over the publication by WikiLeaks of classified U.S. documents.

Assange says he is disappointed, according to BBC News.

The Wikileaks founder said he was “extremely disappointed” and said the Swedish prosecutor had avoided hearing his side of the story….

He sought asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden, fearing he would then be sent to the US for questioning about the activities of Wikileaks.

Under Swedish law, charges cannot be laid without interviewing the suspect.

Mr Assange said he was innocent and claimed prosecutors had refused to visit him at the embassy.

They also refused to promise not to send him to the US if he were to go to Sweden, he said.

Mr Assange said: “I am strong but the cost to my family is unacceptable.”

The new novel, by Winslow Homer

The new novel, by Winslow Homer

In clown car news, Mike Huckabee said some more insane things about Planned Parenthood and abortion.

Talking Points Memo, Huckabee: DOJ Should ‘Criminally Prosecute Planned Parenthood.’

“I would also invoke the 15th and Fourteenth Amendments,” he said on Wednesday. “This is the power that we have to stop this incredible, barbaric scourge of abortion. Not just stop funding Planned Parenthood, but we need to invoke the Fifth and 14th Amendment. The Fifth Amendment guarantees due process for every person. The 14th Amendment guarantees equal protection under the law for every person.”

Huckabee said that he believes that unborn children are people, guaranteeing them Fifth and 14th Amendment rights.

“I would take that position. I would act on behalf of those unborn children, and I would let those who want to slaughter babies, those who want to sell their body parts, let them sue me,” he said.

In response, Melissa McEwan writes:

Again, this is less like chipping away at Roe and more like taking a bulldozer to it.

I have said many times (for instance) that fetuses are valued more highly than the people who carry them, that the potential life of every fetus is more important than the actual life of a pregnant person. Never has this been more clear.

If Mike Huckabee, or any of his fellow Republican candidates, had their way, fetuses would have not equivalent rights, but more rights than any pregnant person.

Protip, Huckabee: “Slaughtering babies” is already against the law.

The country school, by Winslow Homer

The country school, by Winslow Homer

CNN reports on a study showing that kids in elementary school are getting crushing amounts of homework.

Kids have three times too much homework, study finds; what’s the cost?

The study, published Wednesday in The American Journal of Family Therapy, found students in the early elementary school years are getting significantly more homework than is recommended by education leaders, in some cases nearly three times as much homework as is recommended.

The standard, endorsed by the National Education Association and the National Parent-Teacher Association, is the so-called “10-minute rule” — 10 minutes per grade level per night. That translates into 10 minutes of homework in the first grade, 20 minutes in the second grade, all the way up to 120 minutes for senior year of high school. The NEA and the National PTA do not endorse homework for kindergarten….

Parents reported first-graders were spending 28 minutes on homework each night versus the recommended 10 minutes. For second-graders, the homework time was nearly 29 minutes, as opposed to the 20 minutes recommended.

And kindergartners, their parents said, spent 25 minutes a night on after-school assignments, according to the study carried out by researchers from Brown University, Brandeis University, Rhode Island College, Dean College, the Children’s National Medial Center and the New England Center for Pediatric Psychology.

Homer, Winslow 6

That is ridiculous and harmful. Children at younger ages learn far more from play and interacting with other kids than from regimented school assignments.

“It is absolutely shocking to me to find out that particularly kindergarten students (who) are not supposed to have any homework at all … are getting as much homework as a third-grader is supposed to get,” said Stephanie Donaldson-Pressman, the contributing editor of the study and clinical director of the New England Center for Pediatric Psychology.

“Anybody who’s tried to keep a 5-year-old at a table doing homework for 25 minutes after school knows what that’s like. I mean children don’t want to be doing, they want to be out playing, they want to be interacting and that’s what they should be doing. That’s what’s really important.”

The Pope is coming to the U.S., and one of his stops will be at a jail in Philadelphia.

Reuters: At drab Philadelphia jail, anxious times precede papal visit.

One of 17 stops on the pope’s first U.S. tour, the visit to the inner-city jail is a reminder of the emphasis the Argentine pontiff has placed on social justice issues since being named head of the Roman Catholic Church in March 2013.

The pope’s stop at the Philadelphia facility will be the latest in a series of prison visits by Francis, an outspoken opponent of the death penalty and lengthy prison terms. He has counseled teenagers in juvenile detention in Brazil. In Bolivia, he kissed inmates in the country’s most violent prison.

His visit also comes at a time when a growing number of Democrats and Republicans are questioning tough criminal sentencing policies that have left the United States with the highest incarceration rate in the developed world. Barack Obama, who last month became the first sitting U.S. president to tour a federal penitentiary, has called for legislation overhauling sentencing rules.

Advocates for prisoner rights say they are pleased the pope has decided to put the issue on his agenda during the U.S. tour, which will include attending a conference on family life in Philadelphia, plus stops in Washington and New York.

Morning glories, by Winslow Homer

Morning glories, by Winslow Homer

I was going to write about Hillary and the media’s obsession with her emails, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Instead, here’s an inspirational piece from Peter Daou and Tom Watson at #HillaryMen.

Hillary’s Path to History Will Get Much Rougher and She’s Ready.

There is a manic urge among the media, the GOP and the elite commentariat to Stop Hillary – to block a woman from reaching the pinnacle of American political leadership.

Each poll, news story or issue that appears to harm her is seized upon with a strange combination of desperation and glee. It’s an unsavory process but Hillary knew what she was in for when she decided to seek the presidency a second time.

As #HillaryMen, we’re undaunted by the negative stories, unwavering in our support for Hillary and unyielding in our commitment to help smash the ultimate gender barrier.

Ending a 44-0 shutout that has lasted nearly a quarter millennium was never going to be easy. There is no cakewalk to the White House. And certainly not for a woman.

We’ve worked in politics and media for nearly two decades. Peter is a veteran of two presidential campaigns, including Hillary’s 2008 run. We’ve seen every permutation of every attack, every rise and fall in the polls, every gaffe and every zinger, every debate moment and debate aftermath, every nervous election night and every election surprise.

We know what lies ahead for Hillary’s campaign and we realize there will be times when the obstacles seem insurmountable. They are not.

For all practical purposes, the 2016 race is just getting underway. As the first summer of the campaign winds down, the rhetoric heats up and political prognostications start climbing in pitch. The fall frenzy begins in a matter of weeks.

I plan to head over to #HillaryMen every time I get angry and/or anxious about something written or said about her in the media. In case you haven’t read it yet, here’s a link to “The Facts about Hillary Clinton’s Emails” at her campaign website.

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links on any topic in the comment thread, and enjoy your Thursday.