Wednesday Reads: Tank Girl Says It…Dems Got The House

We can turn this shit around!

 

Hey, I know…that is a little too positive, coming from someone like me…but even I have to grasp at some rays of hope. Yesterday, on my way to practice I took a picture of the sunset. It made me think of the future, in this way:

I said a little prayer, may this setting sun be the last of “tRumpian unaccountability”…and will tomorrow’s morning sun bring hope for our democracy.

That image of Tank Girl, it is morning…she is having tea and putting on her boots…preparing herself for the day’s ass kicking. We can turn this shit around! Let’s see what comes from winning the House?

 

Meanwhile, in Georgia:

As of 8:45 this morning, only 75,386 votes separate Kemp and Abrams…

Brian Kemp’s Lead in Georgia Needs an Asterisk – The Atlantic

The Democrat Stacey Abrams, a black woman, made a valiant effort to win the governor’s race in Georgia, one of the original 13 states, whose commitment to human bondage ensured that the U.S. Constitution would treat slavery with kid gloves. A state that was part of the Confederacy. A state scorched by Union General William Tecumseh Sherman in the Civil War. A state that refused to accept the outcome of that war, treating its black residents as second-class citizens—if that—until the federal government forced its hand, a century later, with the Voting Rights Act. She tried to write a new narrative for this state.

Although Abrams has not yet conceded, citing uncounted ballots, it looks as though the other side has won, and the narrative is the same as ever. Abrams didn’t have to fight just an electoral campaign; she had to fight a civil-rights campaign against the forces of voter suppression.

Indeed, I can’t quite bring myself to say that Abrams “lost,” because there’s an asterisk next to her Republican opponent’s victory.

Brian Kemp, who billed himself as a “Trump conservative,” refused to step aside as Georgia’s secretary of state; he ran for governor of a state while overseeing the elections in that state. Former President Jimmy Carter, a Georgian with much experience monitoring elections abroad, stressed that this conflict of interest ran “counter to the most fundamental principle of democratic elections—that the electoral process be managed by an independent and impartial election authority.”
Kemp had no intention of relinquishing a post he has held since 2010, and often wields as a weapon to cull Georgia’s electorate. He understood that he would need every trick in the book because he was up against a woman who, in addition to serving as the minority leader of the state’s House of Representatives from 2011 to 2017, founded a formidable voter-registration organization, the New Georgia Project.[…]Under Kemp, Georgia purged more than 1.5 million voters from the rolls, eliminating 10.6 percent of voters from the state’s registered electorate from 2016 to 2018 alone. The state shut down 214 polling places, the bulk of them in minority and poor neighborhoods. From 2013 to 2016 it blocked the registration of nearly 35,000 Georgians, including newly naturalized citizens. Georgia accomplished this feat of disfranchisement based on a screening process called “exact match,” meaning the state accepted new registrations only if they matched the information in state databases precisely, including hyphens in names, accents, and even typos.[…]Days before the deadline to register for the November election, the Associated Press reported that Kemp had put 53,000 applicants on hold due to exact-match problems. An analysis of Kemp’s records found that 70 percent of those applicants were black. (Georgia is roughly 32 percent black.) Separately, the Georgia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union found that some 700 absentee-ballot applications and almost 200 absentee ballots were rejected by county officials due to a law mandating that the signatures on absentee applications and ballots visually match the signatures on file. Thus, poor penmanship was added to the list of crimes that can lead to disenfranchisement in Georgia.[…]

In the end, it looks like Kemp won. It’s impossible to know if his attempts to restrict the franchise are what pushed him over the line. But if the Georgia race had taken place in another country—say, the Republic of Georgia—U.S. media and the U.S. State Department would not have hesitated to question its legitimacy, if for no other reason than Kemp’s dual roles as candidate and election overseer. Of course, there were other reasons. As of this morning, he led by about 75,000 votes; more than 85,000 registrations were canceled through August 1 of this year alone.

Stacy Abrams is vowing not to concede until all votes are counted. I think she should demand a recount…as well.

 

 

 

This is a good thread to round up the tRump effect:

From down along this thread:

Other observations:

This piece of shit is gone:

And…

On that note, here are a few cartoons:

Blue Shadow: 11/07/2018 Cartoon by Steve Artley

Cartoon by Steve Artley - Blue Shadow

I think Boston Boomer had this in one of her post, but it is so good I have to repeat it:

Election Sticker: 11/07/2018 Cartoon by Rob Rogers

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Election Sticker

11/06/2018 Cartoon by Signe Wilkinson

Cartoon by Signe Wilkinson -

 

 

 

I wonder what the rest of today will bring?

See you in the comments…this is an open thread.

 

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Sunday Reads: Guess Who?

Actor Max Schreck, of Nosferatu fame….

Yeah…this guy:


Today’s post is complemented with images of famous people when they were young…some may surprise you…others will not. I hope you enjoy the show.

Earlier this week, Pence came to Georgia. One of my fellow Roller Girls showed up to protest:

View this post on Instagram

Brittany Martin from News Channel 9 talked to me at the Pence/Kemp rally in Dalton yesterday. There's a short clip of me saying a few words. Ill put the link in my bio. Pardon my look, I was standing in the rain. #fucktrump #fuckpence #fuckkemp #makeracistsashamedagain #protest #makechange #VoteStaceyAbrams #staceyabramsforgovernor #wewillnotbesilenced #metoomovement #impeachtrump

A post shared by Abby (@lovelyfatbabe) on

I am so proud of Pixie! It takes guts to stand there, by yourself…and she did get harassed by tRump supporters. Video clip of her interview with the local news station at this link.

Channel 9 Lone Protestor Outside Rally

One thing about the WFTDA (Women’s Flat Track Derby Association), they are proactive when it comes to issues and politics that strike out at causes and the culture Roller Derby stands up for…for instance:

The Women’s Flat Track Derby Association Condemns Discriminatory Policy in the US – WFTDA

In recent days, the United States executive branch has suggested federal policy changes may be coming that would significantly harm transgender, nonbinary, genderqueer, intersex, and other gender nonconforming members of our communities. As the governing body for the sport of roller derby, the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) denounces these proposed changes, which would be in direct opposition to the inclusive spirit of our roller derby community. We ask other sports governing bodies, amateur and professional, as well as organizations and individuals who recognize the value of inclusivity in sport to join us in pushing back on these discriminatory policies.

As a nonprofit proudly based in Austin, Texas, the WFTDA is saddened to hear of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ interest in defining gender as a biological condition. In the eyes of the WFTDA, this is an attack on our core values as an organization.

In 1972, Title IX was introduced as part of the U.S. Education Amendments, to end “discrimination on the basis of sex.” Title IX specifically offered protections and space for women in amateur sports, addressing the collegiate system directly. In recent years, the NCAA has taken steps to begin extending these protections to transgender athletes wishing to compete at the highest level in their chosen sports, pushing Title IX to end discrimination not just on the basis of assigned sex, but also on the basis of gender expression and transgender status.

The WFTDA has also worked throughout its existence to re-evaluate its own gender policies and create its current gender statement, at the encouragement of the WFTDA community as well as our colleagues in the Junior Roller Derby Association, the Men’s Roller Derby Association, and other organizations that have contributed significantly to gender-expansive competition. Together, we recognize that a commitment to inclusivity makes our sport brighter and more competitive. Diversity adds complexity and nuance that would not otherwise exist on eight wheels. It’s our collective obligation to advocate for the human rights of our membership — especially those who have historically faced disproportionately larger barriers to inclusion.

Please, go to the link to read the rest of the statement. There is a lot more there to chew on.

As you can also see, they encourage their teams to participate in the political discussion:

Arizona Roller Derby Announces the New Names of its International Travel Teams – Arizona Roller Derby

In 2004, AZRD agreed to play the Texas Rollergirls (TXRG) in the first interstate-bout of the modern era. As part of creating its first All-Star team, AZRD members selected the name Tent City Terrors, a satirical political statement in reference to Arizona’s notorious outdoor jail. Many of the skaters on the original team selected a second identity separate from that of their home team, such as “Sheriff Shutyerpaio”. When it was formed, it was unclear when or how many more games the team would play; at the time, there was no flat track organization nor rule set. Still, the name and uniform stuck through the first national tournament held in 2006, and has been used by the team since.

Yeah, a team name…plus derby player’s names to make a political statement. Check out a few other examples below:

Here are a few more links on politics and WFTDA and Roller Derby this:

A few articles on gender issues and concentrating on Derby as an LGBTQ inclusive sport.

WFTDA Gender Statement – WFTDA

Making Inclusivity Happen in Roller Derby – The Apex

The WFTDA Challenges ESPN to Improve Their Relationship with Non – NBC2 News

Roller derby is mashing up gender norms in sport – here’s how

Roller Derby and promoting the Indigenous Community:

Celebrating Indigenous Culture and Community in Roller Derby – WFTDA

Team Indigenous Talks Politics – WiSP Sports | conversations from the world of women’s sports-‘MICK SWAGGER’ AND ‘JUMPY MCGEE’ DISCUSS HOT TOPICS AND THE POLITICS OF TEAM INDIGENOUS AND THE WFTDA

Here is a statement back when tRump issued the fucking Muslim travel ban:

WFTDA Issues Statement Against US Travel Ban – WFTDA

It really makes me proud to be a part of the North Georgia Roller Girls ….which is a WFTDA team associated with Peach State Roller Derby; with the WFTDA backing us, we should stand up for the causes that are a part of the movement that is Women’s Flat Track Roller Derby…it is wonderful to see women like Abby/Pixie embracing the Culture of WFTDA. I applaud her efforts. Brava!

As for the NGRG…we start playing our official first games in March of 2019, so I will definitely keep you all up to date with that nugget of derby news from time to time.

Oh, yeah…more young celebrity pictures:

Milton Berle

Kate Winslet

So back to the shit storm that is tRump.

This little Nazi Youth is none other than tRump himself.

Trump’s attack on birthright citizenship betrays his ignorance – and his weakness | Corey Brettschneider | Opinion | The Guardian

The 14th amendment to the constitution confirms that all Americans are born equal. One immigrant-hating lover of dictators cannot change that with a simple stroke of his pen

In an interview that will air in full on Sunday, Donald Trump reveals that he wants to end birthright citizenship through executive order. But he doesn’t have that power. An executive order cannot reverse the guarantee of citizenship to anyone born in the United States that is enshrined in the constitution.

After the civil war, Congress sought to grant full citizenship to African Americans, who had been denied it under the Dred Scottsupreme court decision. Yet when it passed the 14th amendment in 1868, Congress went further. It wrote a rule making it clear that any person, regardless of ethnicity or national origin, had a right to citizenship upon being born in the US.

The relevant portion of the 14th amendment reads: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” The phrase about jurisdiction was meant to exclude the children of ambassadors and tribal Native Americans, who until 1924 were regarded as citizens of separate sovereign nations.

These words about birthright citizenship reflect the wider values of the 14th amendment, which also guarantees “equal protection of the laws” for all persons. Together with the constitution’s ban on royal titles in Article I, Section 9, the document stands for the idea that the US does not condone hereditary hierarchy – or any legal distinction based on birth or parentage, ideas associated with aristocratic societies. In the US, everyone starts on the same plane.

I also think this is yet another form of tRumpian white nationalist intimidation. Considering the past 2013 Scalia Supreme Court decision which removed the Voting Rights portion of Civil Rights Act of 1964. (Remember the Civil Rights Act will again be revisited soon enough.)

This way of sending these outright threats goes far to back the claims of fascism that Boston Boomer discuss in her post from yesterday.

But back to the the op/ed up top. It goes on to discuss the first case that came before the SCOTUS, in 1898… United States v Wong Kim Ark. Please read the rest to learn more…

I’m going to stick with the Guardian for the next few links, I think it will give us a good look from a different perspective.

Julia Roberts

‘This is Georgia’: hate, hope and history in election that shows the clash of two Americas | US news | The Guardian

Hey, what a fucking surprise. Georgia’s election shit is making news over in the UK!

“The consequences of any of us staying home really are profound because America’s at a crossroads,” he warned. “The healthcare of millions of people is on the ballot. Making sure working families get a fair shake is on the ballot. But maybe most of all, the character of our country is on the ballot.”

It was not meant to be like this. America’s first black president hoped to steer the nation on an upward trajectory. Then came Donald Trump, a man endorsed by white supremacists and the breathing embodiment of everything Obama is not. On Tuesday, these two radically opposing visions of “the character of our country” will collide at the ballot box. Georgia is ground zero.

I live in ground zero. I know the crap first hand. Ugh.

From Seinfeld to bagels, it was always easy to be a Jew in America. What changed? | Hadley Freeman | News | The Guardian by Hadley Freeman.

Recently a clutch of American relatives came to visit me in London. I don’t get to see my extended family so much these days, but thanks to the internet they see me all the time, reading my articles and sending messages so supportive they occasionally reject English as insufficiently adoring and opt for Yiddish (“I’m kvelling!”). They ask me about the different things I’ve been writing about: celebrities, feminism, and so on. But when they made the transatlantic trip this time there was a rare consensus: they all wanted to talk about the rise of antisemitism in Europe.

What is going on? It’s just crazy!” one uncle said to me after I wrote about protesting against antisemitism in British politics. We discussed the rise in verbal and physical attacks on Jews in the UK, the election of Viktor Orbán in Hungary, the Law and Justice party in Poland. He was especially horrified by the murder of 85-year-old Holocaust survivor Mireille Knoll in Paris. “It is just unimaginable,” my cousin said.

Marlene Dietrich

Dietrich was one of many German born actors/entertainers who spoke out and actively campaigned against Hitler during WWII.

‘Vaya con Dios:’ the impossible life of an immigration judge at the US border | US news | The Guardian

Robert Brack, who at one point had the heaviest caseload of any federal judge in the US, pleads for justice for the immigrants he sees every day

One more link for today’s post…

Jon Stewart is right: How long will the media continue to play Trump’s game?

A fleeting moment within the teaser for Axios’s interview with Donald Trump, the centerpiece of Sunday’s “Axios on HBO,” tells all you need to know about how the president truly feels about his relationship to the media.

Moments after Jim VandeHei admits to Trump that his “enemy of the people” rhetoric scares the hell out of him, the reporter (and co-founder of the media site) tells the president, “You are, like, the most powerful man in the world.”

Reflexively Trump looks off-camera and grins, briefly, his face flush with what appears to be self-satisfaction. There was concentrated smugness in that expression, tinged with a pugilist’s cruelty.

In that scene, VandeHei points out the extreme irresponsibility of any leader of the free world using his position and platform to vilify an entire class of people, and using that rhetoric to stoke the emotions of the people who constitute his base.

Ever the attention-hungry reality show star, Trump softly replies, “They like me more because of it,” calling his dangerous hyperbolic term the only way he can fight back. That satisfied grin says he knows he’s winning.

Axios on HBO,” premiering Sunday at 6:30 p.m., is one of many specials the news site will run on the premium cable channel as part of a partnership. HBO has been steadily expanding its news and information footprint. And that in itself indicates how malleable our concept of news has become under Trump’s administration.

This is the interview where tRump announces he is going to snap his fingers…click his heels and poof, no more “14th Amendment.”

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So what are you finding today as we count down to Tuesday’s election?

This is an open thread.


Friday Readings: Vote because Our Lives depend on it

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

The mural to the left is of Georgia gubernatorial Candidate Stacey Abrams located on a building in the Edgewood neighborhood of Atlanta. This building is just blocks from MLK Jr.’s childhood home. White Republicans in Georgia are actively trying to beat her any way they can.

You can tell there is a lot at stake in this election due to the SCOTUS gutting of the Voting Rights Act because there is increasing opportunity and effort to suppress the votes of indigenous peoples in North Dakota and Black people in every southern state and else where.  Republicans are trying to hold power in the Senate to continue the reign of terror and murder of US democracy.

The struggle continues . Dozens of black seniors on their way to early voting in Georgia were ordered off a bus in Jefferson County.

As early voting began Monday in Georgia,a group of black senior citizens gathered for a voter outreach event at Jefferson County’s Leisure Center. Members of Black Voters Matter, one of the groups behind the event, offered to drive the group of about 40 seniors to the polls.

But shortly after the seniors boarded the organization’s bus, county officials stopped the trip, prompting new accusations of voter suppression in a state already dealing with several such controversies.

The event, according to ThinkProgress’s Kira Lerner, was a part of Black Voters Matter’s “The South is Rising” bus tour across seven states to host voter outreach and engagement events. Black Voters Matter is nonpartisan, and the group’s leadership did not encourage the senior citizens to vote for a particular candidate or political party, according to LaTosha Brown, the organization’s co-founder.

Jefferson County Administrator Adam Brett countered that the Monday event constituted “political activity,” noting that a local Democratic Party chair helped sponsor it.

“This is voter suppression, Southern style,” Brown told Think Progress. According to recent Census figures, Jefferson County is 53 percent black, and voting rights advocates cite a lack of transportation as a particularly high barrier to voting for black Georgians. Civil rights groups most recently raised this point in August when a majority-black Georgia county proposed closing all but two of its polling places.

 

There seems to be nothing White Republican men will do these days to hold on to power. It’s astonishing but not surprising. It’s not even subtle any more.  One of the more strange things coming out of Georgia is forcing voter registration clerks to “match signatures” as if they’re experts on handing writing analysis.  From Slate: “Georgia Is Using Amateur Handwriting Analysis to Disenfranchise Minority Voters.  The scourge of “signature mismatch” laws strikes again.”

Say you live in Georgia. You’re eager to vote in this year’s election—a tight race between Democrat Stacey Abrams and Republican Trump acolyte Brian Kemp—so you fill out an absentee ballot and mail it in. Then, days or weeks after the election, you receive a notice in the mail. The signature on your absentee ballot, it explains, looked different from the signature on your voter-registration card. So an election official threw out your ballot. There is nothing you can do. Your vote has been voided.

If Georgia’s signature-mismatch law remains in effect through the November election, this fate will befall thousands of would-be voters. The statute directs elections officials to apply amateur handwriting analysis to voters’ signatures and reject any potential “mismatch.” Nearly 500 ballots in Gwinnett County alone have already been rejected for mismatch, a disproportionate number of them cast by minority voters. Now the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia is suing, demanding that the state give all citizens an opportunity to cure ballots rejected for mismatch. Its suit will help determine how successfully Georgia will suppress minority votes in the upcoming race.

Signature-mismatch laws are a scourge of American elections. The very premise makes no sense: In a similar lawsuit filed in New Hampshire, a forensic document examiner testifiedthat effective signature comparison requires 10 signature samples “at a minimum” to account for variability. Even then, experts may struggle to verify a signature, because our signatures often change over time. Voters who are disabled or elderly, or are nonnative English speakers, are especially likely to have variation between signatures. That’s one reason why New Hampshire’s mismatch law disproportionately impacted seniors, California’s disproportionately impacts first-generation Asian Americans, and Florida’s disproportionately impacts Hispanics.

But there’s likely something more insidious going on here too. The extreme racial disparitiesamong those affected by mismatch laws may also reflect the broad discretion that election officials have to toss ballots. In states with stringent mismatch rules, a handful of election officials are frequently responsible for the vast majority of ballots voided for mismatch. And those officials routinely work in counties with large minority communities.

One of the most important ways to circumvent being stopped at the polls or slowed down at the polls on election day is to vote early.  Early votes are pouring into Virginia. The number of absentee ballots arriving to be counted is nearly unbelievable. It’s another reason that Republican legislatures are trying to shorten early voting periods and create long drives to early voting sites.

The number of voters in Virginia who have cast early ballots ahead of the November elections is dramatically up compared with last year, suggesting an electorate that is energized by several hotly contested races for Congress that are spread across the state.

Virginia allows voters to cast “absentee” ballots in person if they have valid excuses for not being able to vote on Election Day.

Nearly 78,000 people have completed ballots since absentee voting began Sept. 15 — more than double the number who voted early by this point last year, according to an analysis of voting data by the nonprofit Virginia Public Access Project.

That number is still shy of the 123,221 absentee ballots cast during the 2014 midterm elections, state data shows.

But with a little less than three weeks before the Nov. 6 elections, local election officials say this year’s absentee totals are on pace to eclipse 2014 and may even approach the turnout for the presidential election of 2016, when a near-record 496,452 Virginians cast their ballots early.

“It’s actually quite shocking,” said Richard Keech, deputy director of the elections office in Loudoun County, which has seen a 239 percent jump in absentee voting this year, with 11,106 ballots either already cast or mailed to voters so far.

“This would be the first time without a president on the ballot that we’ve seen this kind of increase,” Keech said

Fairfax County, the state’s largest jurisdiction, has seen a roughly 100 percent increase since last year, with 21,582 absentee votes cast so far, officials said. Nearby, Prince William County, the ­second-largest jurisdiction, has climbed by about 114 percent to 4,693 absentee ballots cast.

Here’s a suggestion from MIchelle Goldberg to prevent “political despair”.   She suggests we “join the women trying to save America from Trump.”

This week, a friend texted me, “I feel a panic that won’t stop.” I didn’t have to ask what she meant; we are, after all, less than three weeks from the midterms. “#MeToo,” I replied.

Many women I know — though, of course, not only women — are walking around with a churning knot of terror in their stomachs. The confirmation of the cruel former frat boy Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court brought back the anguish and degradation so many of us felt after the 2016 election. Donald Trump grows more thuggish and mendacious by the day; “gaslighting,” a term taken from a play about an abusive husband trying to drive his wife insane, has become a byword of our national life.

Republicans are increasingly explicit about campaigning to preserve male power. Criticizing the #MeToo movementearly this month, Trump said it’s “a very scary time for young men in America.” Republican congressman Andy Barr of Kentucky ran a commercial attacking his opponent, former Marine fighter pilot Amy McGrath, for describing herself as a feminist. The Washington Post wrote about how an “outbreak of male resentment” is poised to play a “defining role” in the midterms.

I too have this underlying, nagging anxiety all the time.  No matter how many times I say the mani and take deep breaths. I cannot shake the feeling that the bad guys are pulling out all the stops to stop the rest of us from rising.

Meanwhile, Georgia still stands out as the worst example while the ghost of Lester Maddox grins somewhere from hell.

A handful of states, most of them led by Republicans, are using someone’s decision not to vote as the trigger for removing them from the rolls. No state has been more aggressive with this approach than Georgia, where Brian Kemp, the secretary of state, oversaw the purging of a growing number of voters ahead of his own run for governor, according to an APM Reports investigation. Voting rights advocates call it a new form of voter suppression, and they fear it will soon spread to other states.

Even by Georgia standards, the voter purge of late July 2017 was remarkable. In a single day, more than half a million people — 8 percent of Georgia’s registered voters — were cut from the voter rolls. Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp, an avid supporter of President Donald Trump who has described himself as a “politically incorrect conservative,” oversaw the removals eight months after he’d declared himself a candidate for governor.

The purge was noteworthy for another reason: For an estimated 107,000 of those people, their removal from the voter rolls was triggered not because they moved or died or went to prison, but rather because they had decided not to vote in prior elections, according to an APM Reports analysis. Many of those previously registered voters may not even realize they’ve been dropped from the rolls. If they show up at the polls on Nov. 6 to vote in the heated Georgia governor’s race, they won’t be allowed to cast a ballot.

Kemp’s opponent, Democrat Stacey Abrams, is vying to become the first African-American woman in U.S. history to serve as a governor. The state has undergone a dramatic influx of African Americans and Latinos whose votes could challenge Republican dominance, and her campaign is trying to turn out people of color, who are more likely to be infrequent voters. If the race is close, the July 2017 purge could affect the outcome.

The APM Reports analysis is the first estimate of the so-called “use it or lose it” policy’s possible impact in Georgia. While 107,000 people may seem like a small number in a state with a population of 10.4 million, elections have been decided by far smaller margins. For instance, the 2016 presidential election was decided in favor of Donald Trump by a total of 77,744 votes in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Using someone’s decision not to vote as the trigger to remove that person from the rolls is a highly controversial — yet legal — tactic that voting rights advocates say is a potential tool for voter suppression. And its use is on the rise.

APM Reports found that at least nine states — most of them with Republican leadership, including the key battlegrounds of Georgia and Ohio — have purged an estimated hundreds of thousands of people from the rolls for infrequent voting since the 2014 general election. States with these policies are removing voters at some of the highest rates in the nation, no matter the reason.

People are fighting for our right to vote. They have fought over the years and decades to expand the right to vote for all of us. We have the duty and obligation to honor their hard work. I live in a state that seems hopeless and a city that is well represented by Americans of all backgrounds. This election will send my Congressman Cedric Richmond back to the leader of the Congressional Black Caucus. But, I have to admit that I am paying a lot more attention to the judicial races than I used to.  Every race counts these days.

There is one ballot amendment here that will be a statewide vote that would bring significant justice to those incarcerated for major crimes with juries that are not unanimous. Overturning this law would be a significant step forward for Louisiana and I fully support this ballot effort to do so.

What would this ballot measure change about convictions?

Amendment 2 would require the unanimous agreement of jurors to convict people charged with felonies. As of 2018, Louisiana requires the agreement of 10 of 12, or 83 percent, jurors to convict people charged with felonies. Amendment 2 would not affect juries for offenses that were committed before January 1, 2019.[1]

Do other states allow for non-unanimous jury convictions?

As of 2018, Louisiana is one of two states—the other being Oregon—that does not require the unanimous agreement of jurors to convict people charged with felonies. Oregon does, however, require unanimous convictions in murder trials.[2][3]

Have the courts addressed the non-unanimous juries rule?

In Apodaca v. Oregon (1972), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution required unanimous juries to convict persons in federal criminal trials, but that the Fourteenth Amendment did not extend the requirement of unanimous juries to state criminal trials.[4][5]

Oddly enough, the Koch network is supporting this ballot initiative too. As we say, politics can sometimes make for odd bedfellows.

A conservative organization funded by the Koch network launched a digital ad Monday aimed at ending Louisiana’s law that allows split juries to convict people of serious felony crimes, an outreach effort that puts the group at odds with some of its usual allies.

Americans for Prosperity-Louisiana announced the online advertising campaign will be combined with direct-mail pieces and other outreach in support of the constitutional change on the Nov. 6 ballot that would do away with the Jim Crow-era law.

Currently, some serious felony trials in Louisiana, including some murder cases, can be resolved when 10 out of 12 jurors agree on a person’s guilt. Louisiana and Oregon are the only two states that allow non-unanimous verdicts in felony cases. But even Oregon requires a unanimous verdict in murder trials.

Amendment 2 would require jury verdicts in Louisiana to be unanimous to convict someone in all felony cases.

Americans for Prosperity’s 30-second online ad — set to music and without narration — targets libertarian-leaning and conservative voters with a focus on constitutional rights, saying Amendment 2 will “protect American freedom and liberty.” It says Louisiana’s current law makes it “easier to send innocent people to prison.”

“Louisianans deserve a justice system that values, above all else, the rights of the accused in a jury trial. A system that places a higher value on conviction rates than the pursuit of the truth is a system that has no place in our society,” John Kay, Louisiana state director of Americans for Prosperity, said in a statement.

The organization is the main political advocacy group for billionaire Charles Koch, who has supported criminal justice overhauls in several states, including Louisiana. With support of the unanimous jury amendment, along with the criminal-sentencing-law changes, the Koch network has diverged from some other high-profile conservatives in Louisiana, including Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry and several tough-on-crime district attorneys.

But Amendment 2 has drawn an unlikely, bipartisan coalition of support across the political spectrum, from conservative and religious groups to liberal activists.

The constitutional amendment required two-thirds support of lawmakers to reach the November ballot. When Sen. J.P. Morrell, a New Orleans Democrat, first proposed the idea, passage during the regular legislative session was seen as a longshot.

The legislation became the surprise measure of the session, reaching a public vote with widespread support from Democrats and Republicans, picking up steam each step of the process.

gettyimages-891268960black_wide-9bc5d0ff764446aa5c26b48114480562347aa416-s800-c85I would like to say the only stand out thing about the Louisiana Election this year is that we are working to remove this Jim Crow Era law . Our Republican Secretary of State has also purged voter rolls. I made sure I checked my registration earlier this week.  Our State AG is a doozy. We pretty much hate him here in New Orleans.  “AG Landry: Free election day bus rides illegal”.

Lafayette City-Parish Councilman Bruce Conque withdrew a resolution from Tuesday’s agenda that would have provided free bus rides in the city of Lafayette on election days.

Conque said he spoke with Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry who concurred with city-parish attorneys’ advice that free bus service is not legal.

“Jeff (Landry) … said he considers it a violation of the Louisiana constitution and he would legally challenge it if we moved forward,” Conque said.

Landry told The Daily Advertiser the Louisiana Secretary of State asked for advice on the matter, so Landry sent him a 1996 Attorney General opinion. That opinion said a school board could not use school buses to bring voters to election polls.

Even though the Lafayette buses would not directly bring riders to the polls, Landry said it is not allowed. The facts of the opinion may differ from the Lafayette case, he said, but the principle behind the conclusion is the same.

This impacts the poor and the elderly. Additionally, here’s some evidence of the Secretary of State’s voter suppression tactics from the Daily  Beast.  Rachel Maddow has been focusing on this issue of voter suppression over the country. We have not yet been featured but Louisiana has done it too.  Here’s our experience with voter purges from Louisiana Weekly.

In July 2018, the Brennan Center for Justice released a report analyzing voter purging across the country showing that between 2014 and 2016 officials removed more than 16 million people from voting rolls nationwide. That’s four million more names than states removed between 2006 and 2008 (the last time frame analyzed).

The center attributes this increase in purging to an increase in the use of sometimes flawed data matching software across states to remove names, as well as conservative activist groups lobbying for, and sometimes suing to get, more purges and tougher legislation to protect against potential non-citizen voters.

Louisiana’s last voter purge was in 2017, a routine post-election clean up that resulted in 55,000 names removed from an inactive voter list of more than 100,000. (There are some three million registered voters in total in the state).

Voters become inactive after they don’t vote in a federal election and, “we don’t have a way to reach them by mail or phone,” says Louisiana secretary of state’s spokeswoman Meg Casper Sunstrom. “In other words, we can’t verify they are living where they are registered to vote. As soon as they participate and vote, they can be removed from the inactive list.”

Some voting rights advocates have criticized past purges in Louisiana, particularly a post-Katrina purge that resulted in a federal lawsuit against the state in 2007. Many displaced people registered for driver’s licenses and acquired temporary residences in other states, and data matching systems subsequently flagged their names as potential “double voters” – people registered to vote in multiple states. Millions of people are registered in two places, and research shows that since 2000, around 30 cases of voter fraud have been validated in the United States.

Despite little to no evidence of illegal voting across the country, the Trump Administration has aggressively pursued efforts to curtail even the possibility of fraud – creating a now defunct national voter fraud task force and asking states to turn over detailed information on individual voters. Then, Louisiana secretary of state Tom Schedler declined the task force’s request, offering only the same (less extensive) data available for purchase to political candidates online.

We must stop this dreadful disenfranchisement and removal of rights from citizens.  If we don’t attack it by voting and by bringing attention to voter suppression efforts it will only get worse.  It can only benefit Trump and the white patriarchy who oppresses the majority of people in the country and can only contain them with gerrymandering and voter suppression.  Increased voter participation by the rest of this lessens the chance they are successful.

Don’t forget to vote!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

 


Tuesday Reads: Jeff Sessions Dog Whistles Dixie

3-1trumpsessionsbabyjpg-ff85ad365d53b7aeThe first of our new theocratic, Putin-loving, grifter overlords is sitting in front of a Senate committee with absolutely no vetting being grilled and testified against by his peers. Neoconfederate radical christianist Senator Jeff Sessions can sure tell some whoppers and he sure does whistle Dixie.

In an unprecedented move, Senator Corey Booker has chosen to testify about Session’s treatment of the law and of black people.

Democratic Sen. Cory Booker is set to testify against Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions Wednesday in an unprecedented move during his attorney general confirmation.

This would be the first time in Senate history that a sitting senator will testify against another sitting senator for a Cabinet post during a confirmation.”I do not take lightly the decision to testify against a Senate colleague,” Booker said. “But the immense powers of the attorney general combined with the deeply troubling views of this nominee is a call to conscience.”

Sessions’ confirmation hearings, which started Tuesday, are expected to raise additional questions on old allegations of racism from his past. When Sessions was a 39-year-old US attorney in Alabama, he was denied a federal judgeship because the Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony during hearings in March and May 1986 that Sessions had made racist remarks and called the NAACP and ACLU “un-American.”

Booker told CNN on Tuesday morning shortly before Sessions’ hearing started that it was “consequential moment.”

“This is one of the more consequential appointments in American history right now given the state of a lot of our challenges we have with our policing, a lot of challenges we have with race relations, gay and lesbian relations,” Booker said.

LIVE Trump confirmation hearings: Jeff Sessions’ first hearing

Representative John Lewis will also testify against Sessions along with my Congressman Cedric Richmond who will represent the Black Caucus and me for that matter.1-20

Several other prominent African-American figures in addition to Booker also plan to testify against Sessions, including two members of the House: Rep. John Lewis, D-Georgia, a leader of the civil rights movement of the 1960s; and Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-Louisiana, the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus.

The NAACP has also strongly opposed Sessions’ nomination, calling him “a threat to desegregation and the Voting Rights Act.”

Sessions is a hodgepodge of bad things. He’s failed to disclose his oil interests and ethnics experts are taking issue.

Attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions did not disclose his ownership of oil interests on land in Alabama as required by federal ethics rules, according to an examination of state records and independent ethics lawyers who reviewed the documents.

The Alabama records show that Sessions owns subsurface rights to oil and other minerals on more than 600 acres in his home state, some of which are adjacent to a federal wildlife preserve.

The holdings are small, producing revenue in the range of $4,700 annually. But the interests were not disclosed on forms sent by Sessions to the Office of Government Ethics, which reviews the assets of Cabinet nominees for potential conflicts of interest.

crowej20161121_lowHe is currently up on the stand doing things like telling Dianne Feinstein that he really thinks Roe v. Wade is unconstitutional and badly decided but it’s established law.  He’s explaining his vote against laws to protect women victims of violence as being against the establishment of the rights of Native Americans to hold trials against accused rapists in their own courts.  He’s just a big ol’ bug hiding nasty fangs and a poison sac right out there for every one to see.

You may want to read the story of Sessions and his role in prosecuting the Klan to really understand how deep his southern roots go.  Sessions has also testified he loathes the clan today.    Sessions apologists hold this case up as proof he’s really not all that racist.

letter from 23 former assistant attorney generals cited the fact that he had “worked to obtain the successful capital prosecution of the head of the Alabama Ku Klux Klan” as evidence of his “commitment to the rule of law, and to the even-handed administration of justice.” The Wall Street Journal said that Sessions, “won a death-penalty conviction for the head of the state KKK in a capital murder trial,” a case which “broke the Klan in the heart of dixie,” and The New York Post praised him for having “successfully prosecuted the head of the state Ku Klux Klan for murder.” Grant Bosse wrote in the Manchester, New Hampshire, Union Leaderwrote that “when local police wrote off the murder as a drug deal gone wrong, Sessions brought in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, and brought Hays and the Klan to justice.”

Sessions himself recently listed the case as one of the “ten most significant significant litigated matters” he had “personally handled” on his Senate confirmation questionnaire. And in 2009, Sessions told National Review that there had been a campaign to “smear my record,” whereas in fact, he had “prosecuted the head of the Klan for murdering somebody.”

No one involved in the case disputes that Sessions lent his support to the prosecution. “Not all southern United States attorneys welcomed civil-rights division attorneys into their districts back then,” said Barry Kowalski, a former civil-rights division attorney who was one of the main lawyers on the investigation, and who defended Sessions in his 1986 confirmation hearing. “He did, he cooperated with us completely.”

However, in seeking to defend Sessions from charges of racism, Sessions’s allies, and even Sessions himself, seem to have embellished key details, and to have inflated his actual role in the case, presenting him not merely as a cooperative U.S. attorney who facilitated the prosecution of the two Klansmen, but the driving force behind the prosecution itself. The details of the case don’t support that claim.

188054_600You can read the details in the feature I’ve linked to which came for The Atlantic.

The Sessions hearings are on CSPAN if you want an uninterrupted view of it all. The Hill has a list of five things to watch. This first one is as important as questions on policing and voting rights.

 

Does he detail Trump’s plans on immigration?

Sessions is known as the foremost immigration hawk in the Senate, so you can bet he’ll be pressed on an issue that has liberals on edge in the age of Trump.

Expect Democrats to come armed with statistics challenging the notion that illegal immigrants are flooding across the southern border; that crime is out of control among illegal immigrants; and that President Obama has not done enough to deport those in the country illegally who have committed other crimes.

In addition, while it won’t necessarily fall under his purview at the Justice Department, Democratic senators will likely look to score political points by challenging Sessions on the complications of building a border wall.

And they’ll likely look to get him to say that he won’t move to deport, en masse, the estimated 10 million illegal immigrants in the country, and in particular the estimated 700,000 young undocumented immigrants protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

As president, Trump could do away with that program by executive order.

cxkiwkrxcaar5ywI have to work and grade today but will try to follow comments on Twitter.  They are plentiful.

I could use a few donations if you have a few bucks to spare.  Our TypeKit subscription is up in January. It’s not a lot, but every little bit you can help me defray would be great.  It basically keeps our nice logo up there in its cursive glory

So, anyway, I’ve got to go warp minds and grade papers.  BB’s successfully moved to her new apartment too!  She’s patiently waiting for the cable guy.  JJ is still with her mom in the facility and is having up and down days.  We’re just happy to have you all here for breaks in our mundane lives!!!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Wednesday Reads: Monkey see, monkey dooo!

a529e3eb0bd17267b0f603deb13c5f42Good Afternoon

I was at my daughter’s Christmas choral concert last night, so I missed the…cough, cough…debate.

There is also a nasty cold going around my house, and I am trying to fight it off. Over sleeping and such, so today’s post is just a link dump…and nothing more.

Breaking news!

First Freddie Gray Trial Ends in Hung Jury; Mistrial Declared – ABC News

The jury could not reach a decision in the first trial of a Baltimore police officer charged in connection with the death of Freddie Gray.

34864f7b257a0d964362a335041ca4e7The judge declared a mistrial after a hung jury was announced on all charges against officer William Porter.

The jury deliberated over three days, and there was signs that the jury may not reach a unanimous decision.

Jurors told the court Tuesday they were deadlocked after less than a full day of deliberations but the judge sent them back, asking them to continue to work toward a unanimous verdict in the charges against police officer William Porter.

 

Back to the news links.

In no particular order, as you can see I’m really in the funk.

47b2236b6e89e395e859fabc42d150b4

 

On the heels of the news that a Tennessee woman was so desperate enough to use a clothes hanger on herself to self abort: This Disturbing New Ohio Abortion Bill Is More Than Just Ridiculous…It’s Grisly «

ed7e0a2c11a504d4a168fe739e8762ecThe latest brainchild of the Ohio Republican party is a new bill that will require women to authorize and ultimately be financially responsible for the burial or cremation of their “child.” The proposed legislation takes religious zealotry to the state level, where Buckeyes are known for doing incredibly stupid things.

The bill would require women to sign a form, meaning there has to be some kind of record-keeping, but the creepy weirdos who introduced this idiocy promise that doesn’t constitute a “registry.” Unfortunately for them, yeah…it kinda does.

Attorney General Mike DeWine, after investigating Planned Parenthood for months at the taxpayers’ expense and coming up empty-handed, got all misty-eyed when he “found” that Planned Parenthood had been “simply tossing them in landfills” —  invoking the idea of huge piles of household garbage and a woman in a lab coat tossing fully formed little children on top without emotion. Basically, DeWine couldn’t find anything, so he invented something.

a4d86aeb108e88e67c8020b9f90055b0The Christian right got a hold of that information and immediately began weeping for humanity. If only those fetuses who are far more often than not nothing but zygotes could be replaced with those evil abortion doctors. That would help protect the sanctity of life. They took the ball and ran with it, choosing one of their chief loons, State Rep Barbara Shears, to explain to the people that the bill isn’t politically motivated:

36082735b81e7c66a8b85619008c8484“The idea of respectfully treating the remains of an infant who has been aborted, I think is critical. And I think that you can see how we treat our own childhood pets when we are disposing of them in a respectful way, you know I think that people are shocked. And I don’t think that it matters whether you are Republican or Democrat or Independent or oblivious to politics all together.”

77e883df27deb6547dfec8602537f031Of course it has nothing to do with politics. It has to do with the place you go on Sunday that you want to impose on the rest of America because you and the Duggars are better than we are. Childhood pets? Wait…here’s a great paragraph from WVXU in Cincinnati:

Representative Robert McColley says there are still details to work out…such as whether there would be specific cemeteries for the bodies or places where cremains could be spread.  Right now, in Ohio, he says the state does not record the names of women who get abortions and he says while the state would require all women to sign this form, the goal would not be to start a statewide registry of sorts.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Bodies. Cremains. Cemeteries. How long before they require little funerals? These a**holes don’t understand that when a woman loses or is forced to terminate a pregnancy at a stage where what is lost looks like “Walter” from the Planned Parenthood videos, it is most often not welcome and extremely traumatic. It also accounts for a very small percentage of abortions. The entire issue is misleading and unfair, which is about par for the Christian right’s course.

Gabriel Mann of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio said:

“This law that Ohio Planned Parenthood affiliates have been following has been in effect for 40 years, 3 months and 14 days and nobody had any problems with them following the law until Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine had to announce that Planned Parenthood was following the law. And he got very frustrated by the fact that he had to tell the truth and now they need a new law.”

40 years plus and now all of a sudden this.

7b653be16c3268db5648f7ec523b79e3On to the next, ‘Fox & Friends’ Jizz Their Stockings In Yuletide Rage | Wonkette

The two hear Ferrer out and pay an assload of lip service to the idea of diversity being amazing, and then Doocy sets PTA mama up to deliver Fox News’s trademarked ass-chapping grievance of the holiday season:

DOOCY: You’re wearing a Santa Mickey shirt. You can wear that into the school, BUT?

FERRER: We’re not allowed to say the “Merry Christmas.” 😦

FOX NEWS SADFACE JIZZ EXTRAVAGANZA, DING DING DING!

be678f0924350f83f7f62a3e5d543b10But you see, this is not typical Fox News War On Christmas fare. This isn’t Gretchen Carlson bellyaching about how the Festivus Feats Of Strength are prohibiting her from suckling the baby Jesus to her Miss America teats. This is not Fox’s Todd Starnes, Alleged Pee Enthusiast, pushing a fake story about a Georgia school confiscating Christmas cards. And it’s definitely not Starbucks doing abortions to Jesus in His manger, by making a red cup.

Read the whole thing from Wonkette, I just love the sentence about Carlson.

Hugh Hewitt Booed For Asking If Carson Would Approve Murdering ‘Thousands Of Children’ In War | Crooks and Liars

94353db899848c51ced64217071c97c7British man cleared of rape after ‘falling on top of teen’ – NY Daily News

British man who told police he ‘may have penetrated teenager after falling on top of her’ cleared of rape

Ehsan Abdulaziz was accused of forcing himself on the 18-year-old as she slept on the sofa in his London apartment, after a night drinking at an exclusive nightclub.

When he was questioned, the 46-year-old businessman said he had slipped and fallen on top of the girl, which may have caused his penis to penetrate her.

df363f18c94cec9e9814b492ff55c930“I’m fragile, I fell down but nothing ever happened. Between me and this girl, nothing ever happened,” said Abdulaziz, reported Mirror Online.

British court clears Saudi millionaire of rape charges after he claimed he accidentally tripped and fell on teenage girl – Salon.com

The real estate mogul’s semen & DNA were found in the girl. He was allowed to present the judge evidence in private

The young girl said she woke up in the early hours of the morning and real estate mogul Ehsan Abdulaziz, 46, was raping her.

bfb20fa245c4a4b13faf6191347ac00bAbdulaziz had previously slept with the teenager’s 24-year-old friend in his bedroom. He claimed that he had walked over to the young girl to offer to give her a t-shirt, when he tripped and fell on her, with his penis still sticking out of his underwear from the previous sexual encounter.

An investigation found that Abdulaziz’ semen and DNA were inside the teenage girl, but he claimed this was leftover from having sex with the teen’s friend.

The millionaire property developer also blamed the alleged rape survivor for pulling him on top of her. “I’m fragile, I fell down but nothing ever happened, between me and this girl nothing ever happened,” Abdulaziz said, according to British media reports.

 0285f60f19f43edfd653427bc6600b0b

Abdulaziz had met the young women in a high-end London club. He invited them to his private $1,500-per-night table and bought them both drinks.

Later that night, the millionaire offered to drive them home in his lavish Aston Martin car.

Abdulaziz is married and lives with his wife and child. At the time of the incident, the two were spending the summer in the Czech Republic.

The jury, in London’s Southwark Crown Court, acquitted the millionaire after roughly 30 minutes of deliberation.

3596edde3e70ea37548ce7c7ad0b318eBritish publication the Daily Mail reported that, “During the trial, Judge Martin Griffiths permitted the rare step of allowing 20 minutes of Mr Abdulaziz’s evidence to be heard in private.”

 

Are Menu Prices Too Far Ahead of Inflation? | BurgerBusiness

Fox’s Krauthammer: Trump’s Plan To Kill Relatives Of Terrorists Is “An Unbelievably Irresponsible, Semi-Insane Policy” | Video | Media Matters for America

5th Republican debate transcript, annotated: Who said what and what it meant – The Washington Post

20cbe1d05381376ef97ec214842c2276Republican candidates consolidate support by sticking to scripts at debate | US news | The Guardian

The Republican Debate Included Lots Of Misleading Claims

Memphis teen ‘was running away’ when shot dead by police, witnesses say | US news | The Guardian

Malala Yousafzai: Trump’s Muslim Ban Proposal is ‘Tragic, Full of Hatred’ | Mediaite

In Chile, world’s astronomy hub, scientists fear loss of dark skies | Reuters

3bc920bb1996977bc2434edeb918ebb5Election 2016: Why Donald Trump is staying on top for now – CBS News

This is important: San Bernardino attackers did not post about jihad on social media, FBI says | US news | The Guardian

Do Muslims and Christians worship the same God? College suspends professor who said yes. – The Washington Post

Meet the Doc Who Stopped CDC’s Gun Violence Program | Medpage Today

573d3ab2826fd2a6552ee1ac3be8c34eNo evidence California attackers were part of terrorist cell: FBI head | Reuters

Chattanooga shooting that killed 5 U.S. military members was terrorism, FBI confirms | AL.com

FBI: Chattanooga attack was ‘inspired by terrorist organization propaganda’ | WKRN News 2

The Latest: Federal Investigation Into Chicago Police Begins – ABC News

Only men at your event? This blog will shame you – BBC News

6bec886419476694604a3c03883e251eCOP21 is too male dominated and has male priorities, says UN special envoy | Environment | The Guardian

The U.N. Sent 3 Foreign Women To The U.S. To Assess Gender Equality. They Were Horrified.

UN Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practice finalizes country mission to the United States

UN bashes Alabama on women’s rights, immigration, abortion; Zeigler says agency ‘has no business’ going to Alabama | AL.com

716c9ab6b74d0770f29e485fc9d3fb7cLet’s end it on a positive note, of sorts: Got Calcium? Wild Parrots Use Tools During Snack Time

The black-feathered greater vasa parrot has a new skill to add to its resume — the use of tools to grind shells to create calcium powder, which it then proceeds to lick up with its pink tongue, a new study finds.

The vasa parrot is now the only known species besides humans to use tools for grinding, the researchers said.

914ab135a68eb2690605c0e3bc7431a9The finding was an “entirely fortuitous discovery,” said study lead author Megan Lambert, a doctoral student of psychology at the University of York. She and her colleagues were observing 10 captive greater vasa parrots (Coracopsis vasa) in aviaries that had floors covered with cockleshells, soil, wood chips and pebbles, she said. [Pretty Bird: Images of a Clever Parrot]

“[We] noticed they were interacting quite a bit with objects from the floor of their aviary,” Lambert told Live Science. “So we took a closer look and that’s when we found they were actually using tools.”

eeaf911141660f0ba696a8c137629f21The parrots were picking up pebbles or date pits with their beaks and grinding the tools against the cockleshells to create a fine calcium powder. (Seashells are mostly made of calcium carbonate.) The birds then licked the powder off the tools, which gave them a nutritious calcium snack, Lambert said.

Sometimes the parrots used the pebbles or pits as a wedge to help them break the seashells into small pieces that were easier to eat and digest, she added.

“What’s also particularly interesting is that we observed a lot of tool transfer, where one bird would actually approach group members and steal the tool directly from their beak, and then go on to use it on a shell,” she said.

This is an open thread.

3efefb9aeec0ccfcaf2eacedf65c2538

 


Friday Reads

1bee80ac1bfdffef45df1a686a62cbecIt’s a great autumn weekend down here in New Orleans!  I hope your day and weather are splendid too!

There’s a lot of news up today but the first thing I want to cover is the clarification made by the Vatican on the Kentucky Bigot Brigrade and the supposed papal visit.  It looks like we have a case of extreme exaggeration or “telling a whopper” as we like to call it in my neck of the woods.

According to the Vatican, Pope Francis did not invite Kim Davis to meet him. There was no secret meeting, and the Pope had no idea who she was when he met her.

In a statement, the Vatican clarified that Pope Francis didn’t even know who Kim Davis was:

The brief meeting between Mrs. Kim Davis and Pope Francis at the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington, DC has continued to provoke comments and discussion. In order to contribute to an objective understanding of what transpired I am able to clarify the following points:

Pope Francis met with several dozen persons who had been invited by the Nunciature to greet him as he prepared to leave Washington for New York City. Such brief greetings occur on all papal visits and are due to the Pope’s characteristic kindness and availability. The only real audience granted by the Pope at the Nunciature was with one of his former students and his family.

The Pope did not enter into the details of the situation of Mrs. Davis and his meeting with her should not be considered a form of support of her position in all of its particular and complex aspects.

The Pope briefly met Kim Davis as part of a group, had no idea who she was, said hello to her, and moved on.

The Vatican’s version of events is the opposite of what Davis’s supporters are claiming happened. The anti-gay marriage crowd claimed that the Pope met with Davis in secret and expressed his support for her bigotry. The right has been using the imaginary meeting as an endorsement of their out of step views.

The extremist conservative movement’s attempt to use Pope Francis for propaganda purposes has fallen apart. Davis’s invitation had been extended by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the envoy in Washington. Viganò is well known to have gone further than others in the church in his campaign against gay marriage. The Pope did not invite Davis to meet him. In fact, according to the Vatican, Pope Francis had not been briefed on the situation and knew nothing about Davis.

The fact that the Vatican took such pains to distance themselves from Davis could logically be viewed as a rejection of her beliefs.

So, hopefully the Archbishop will be called to the Vatican woodshed and there will be a great big huge discussion on rending unto Caesargrid-cell-18637-1405708438-24 that which is Caesar’s.  Either way, the Kentucky Bigot Brigade appears to following the usual tradition of lying your way to to what you think gawd wants.

Yet another abortion advocate is the target of death threats from the “pro-life” set.  I’ve had all kinds of run ins with these folks over a period of about 30 years and it always ends in threats of violence.  Lies and violence are their trademarks.

A few weeks ago, writers Amelia Bonow and Lindy West began the hashtag campaign #ShoutYourAbortion to encourage the one in three women who have had an abortion to speak out about their experience instead of being shamed into silence. Then came the death threats.

Bonow told the New York Times that the idea behind the campaign wasn’t to glorify the procedure, but instead to destigmatize it during a time when people are so angry about the topic they’re setting Planned Parenthood clinics on fire.

“A shout is not a celebration or a value judgment, it’s the opposite of a whisper, of silence,” Bonow told the Times. “Even women who support abortion rights have been silent, and told they were supposed to feel bad about having an abortion.”

In a social-media world that’s this upsetting and dangerous, no wonder some celebrities hire Twitter surrogates.

Increased violence against Planned Parenthood Clinics is on the FBI’s radar and has come about as the result of the intense lying of Congressional Republicans and idiots like Republican Presidential Wannabe Fiorina. Nothing ever good comes from whipping up a bunch of religious fanatics.  Check the Middle East region if you need further proof.

As the national conversation on Planned Parenthood has become louder and more heated, politicians have warned that it could ignite acts of violence against clinics and neighborhood facilities.

Late Wednesday, for the second time in weeks, a Planned Parenthood center in Thousand Oaks came under attack, this time by an arsonist or arsonists who authorities believe smashed out a window, splashed gasoline inside the clinic and then ignited it.

Authorities say there’s no evidence the attack was related to the larger debate on Planned Parenthood, but said the West Hillcrest Drive facility was previously attacked by vandals six weeks ago.

No direct theats had been made to the facility or clinic workers before the fire, said Ventura County sheriff’s Capt. John Reilly.

A few plants near the window were blackened, but the small fire had been extinguished quickly because of a sprinkler system, Lohman said.

a57489e8e9b51705244f3519fadb76dbA fire in a Washington State Planned Parenthood that happened in early September was already ruled arson.  As previously mentioned, the FBI is warning local law enforcement of the possibility of increased domestic terrorist activites aimed at Planned Parenthood.

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation has warned of an increasing number of attacks on reproductive healthcare facilities. “It is likely criminal or suspicious incidents will continue to be directed against reproductive health care providers, their staff and facilities,” an FBI Intelligence Assessment reads,according to a CBS report Friday.

The finding comes after a July video from the pro-life Center for Medical Progress, which releasedsecretly taped footage of Planned Parenthood officials discussing how they use tissues from aborted fetuses for medical research.

Since then, federal investigators have reported nine criminal or suspicious incidents at reproductive health centers across the country, which included cyberattacks, threats and arson. The FBI believes the incidents were “consistent with the actions of lone offenders using tactics of arsons and threats all of which are typical of the pro-life extremist movement,” sources told CBS.

12277179b4bd15de4070b1c14c3f6d83So, this is in keeping with the latest mass shooting whose perpetrator is a self-confessed NAZI and “conservative Republican” who disliked “organized religion”.   Chris Harper Mercer is yet another example of a lone wolf, young white male shooter with mental illness issues. 

Mr. Mercer appeared to have sought community on the Internet. A picture of him holding a rifle appeared on a MySpace page with a post expressing a deep interest in the Irish Republican Army. It included footage from the conflict in Northern Ireland set to “The Men Behind the Wire,” an Irish republican song, and several pictures of gunmen in black balaclavas. Another picture showed the front page of An Phoblacht, the party newspaper of Sinn Fein, the former political wing of the I.R.A.

A picture of Mr. Mercer also appeared on a long-dormant dating website profile registered in Los Angeles. On it, he described himself as an “introvert” with a dislike for “organized religion.”

In the offline world, Mr. Mercer’s mother sought to protect him from all manner of neighborhood annoyances, former neighbors in Torrance said, from loud children and barking dogs to household pests. Once, neighbors said, she went door-to-door with a petition to get the landlord to exterminate cockroaches in her apartment, saying they bothered her son.

“She said, ‘My son is dealing with some mental issues, and the roaches are really irritating him,’ ” Julia Winstead, 55, said. “She said they were going to go stay in a motel. Until that time, I didn’t know she had a son.”

We’ve said this before, but American’s gun fetish is causing our country to look like some kind of throwback to the Stone Age.  Except, 06b00848ebc42841b77839ed82e51815stone axes can kill one person. Sophisticated guns kill millions of Americans.  Here’s “America’s fucking awful, truly unique gun violence problem,visualized” per Ezra Klein.

Whenever a mass shooting occurs, supporters of gun rights often argue that it’s inappropriate to bring up political debates about gun control in the aftermath of a tragedy. For example, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a strong supporter of gun rights, criticized President Barack Obama for “trying to score cheap political points” when the president mentioned gun control after a mass shooting in Charleston, South Carolina.

But if this argument is followed to its logical end, then it will never be the right time to discuss mass shootings, as Christopher Ingraham pointed out at the Washington Post. Under the Mass Shooting Tracker’s definition of mass shootings, America has nearly one mass shooting a day. So if lawmakers are forced to wait for a time when there isn’t a mass shooting to talk gun control, they could find themselves waiting for a very long time.

We’ll undoubtedly see more stories blaming mental illness.  But is it the real issue in these domestic terrorist situation?  Read this great rant by Arthur Chu on Salon.

I get really really tired of hearing the phrase “mental illness” thrown around as a way to avoid saying other terms like “toxic masculinity,” “white supremacy,” “misogyny” or “racism.”

We barely know anything about the suspect in the Charleston, South Carolina, atrocity. We certainly don’t have testimony from a mental health professional responsible for his care that he suffered from any specific mental illness, or that he suffered from a mental illness at all.
We do have statistics showing that the vast majority of people who commit acts of violence do not have a diagnosis of mental illness and, conversely, people who have mental illness are far more likely to be the victims of violence than the perpetrators.

We know that the stigma of people who suffer from mental illness as scary, dangerous potential murderers hurts people every single day — it costs people relationships and jobs, it scares people away from seeking help who need it, it brings shame and fear down on the heads of people who already have it bad enough.

But the media insists on trotting out “mental illness” and blaring out that phrase nonstop in the wake of any mass killing. I had to grit my teeth every time I personally debated someone defaulting to the mindless mantra of “The real issue is mental illness” over the Isla Vista shootings.

“The real issue is mental illness” is a goddamn cop-out. I almost never hear it from actual mental health professionals, or advocates working in the mental health sphere, or anyone who actually has any kind of informed opinion on mental health or serious policy proposals for how to improve our treatment of the mentally ill in this country.

There are so many ways to see how our country is marching backwards from modernity that it sometimes makes my head 18536e6732f186631f4e82093ab9a17dhurt badly.  This is Hillary on Alabama’s attempt to remove DMVs and access to picture IDS in their counties that are majority black. Alabama is trying to reinstate Jim Crow just as every Republican in Congress wants us back to the days before Birth Control and Abortion was legal and acessible.  

Hillary Clinton slammed the closure of 31 driver’s license offices in Alabama — many in majority-black counties — as “a blast from the Jim Crow past.”

The closures, announced this week, hit majority-black counties especially hard. Under Alabama’s new tougher version of its voter ID law, voters must have a photo ID, such as a driver’s license, to vote. Every Alabama county with at least 75 percent African American registered voters will lose its DMV office, according to local reports.

“This is only going to make it harder for people to vote,” Clinton said in a statement Friday. “It’s a blast from the Jim Crow past.”

Clinton has made voting rights a major platform of her presidential campaign. Alabama has defended the DMV closures, saying that there are other options for residents to obtain an ID that will enable them to vote.

Read Clinton’s full statement below:

“I strongly oppose Alabama’s decision to close driver’s license offices across the state, especially in counties that have a significant majority of African Americans. Just a few years ago, Alabama passed a law requiring citizens to have a photo ID to vote. Now they’re shutting down places where people get those photo IDs. This is only going to make it harder for people to vote. It’s a blast from the Jim Crow past.


“We’re better than this. We should be encouraging more Americans to vote, not making voting harder. As President, I’ll push for automatic voter registration for every American when they turn 18, and a new national standard of at least 20 days of early in-person voting in every state. And I’ll work with Congress to restore key protections of the Voting Rights Act.

“African Americans fought for the right to vote in the face of unthinkable hatred. They stood up and were beaten down, marched and were turned back. Some were even killed. But in the end, the forces of justice overcame. Alabama should do the right thing. It should reverse this decision. And it should start protecting the franchise for every single voter, no matter the color of their skin.”

It may be time to take to the streets again.

The cell phones in the pockets of the dead students were still ringing when we were told that it was wrong to ask why. As the police cleared the bodies from the Virginia Tech engineering building, the cell phones rang, in the eccentric varieties of ring tones, as parents kept trying to see if their children were OK. To imagine the feelings of the police as they carried the bodies and heard the ringing is heartrending; to imagine the feelings of the parents who were calling — dread, desperate hope for a sudden answer and the bliss of reassurance, dawning grief — is unbearable. But the parents, and the rest of us, were told that it was not the right moment to ask how the shooting had happened — specifically, why an obviously disturbed student, with a history of mental illness, was able to buy guns whose essential purpose is to kill people — and why it happens over and over again in America. At a press conference, Virginia’s governor, Tim Kaine, said, “People who want to … make it their political hobby horse to ride, I’ve got nothing but loathing for them. … At this point, what it’s about is comforting family members … and helping this community heal. And so to those who want to try to make this into some little crusade, I say take that elsewhere.”

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?