Tuesday Reads

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Good Morning!!

You’ve probably seen the latest police violence story out of South Carolina. From Mother Jones: Disturbing Video Shows School Cop Body Slam and Drag a Black Female Student.

Authorities in Richland County, South Carolina, are investigating a video that surfaced Monday showing a uniformed officer aggressively confronting a high school student. Local station WIS-TV reports that county sheriff’s deputies are investigating the incident, which took place on Monday at Spring Valley High School, according to school officials. The video, which appears to have been recorded on a cellphone by a classmate, shows a white male officer standing over a black female student sitting at her desk; moments later he grabs the student and flips her on her back. After dragging her across the floor, the officer says, “Hands behind your back—give me your hands.” The video has no additional context as to what led to or followed the altercation.

“Parents are heartbroken as this is just another example of the intolerance that continues to be of issue in Richland County School District Two, particularly with families and children of color,” a local black parents group wrote in a statement responding to the video.

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott told WIS-TV that the school resource officer (SRO) was responding to a student who was refusing to leave class. “The student was told she was under arrest for disturbing school and given instructions, which she again refused,” Lott said. “The video then shows the student resisting and being arrested by the SRO.”

Here’s the video.

 

Why on earth was that level of violence necessary? It’s not even clear what this young girl did to cause the teach to order her to leave class. From WISTV10: Sheriff contacts FBI, DOJ to investigate violent incident involving deputy at Spring Valley.

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott says he’s asked the FBI to investigate an incident involving a school resource officer at Spring Valley High School.

Monday night Lott called the Special Agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigations for South Carolina, Dave Thomas to request an independent investigation of the incident. Tuesday morning the Sheriff followed up with a formal written request to U.S. Attorney William Nettles and Thomas for the US Justice Department asking for a formal investigation.

Richland School District 2 school officials have banned the officer from the district in response to a video supposedly taken at Spring Valley High School showing the officer slamming and dragging a student from her desk.

School officials confirmed the incident happened on Monday between a female student and school resource officer Ben Fields.

You can watch other angles of the violent attack at the link.

Deputy Ben Fields

Deputy Ben Fields

Sheriff Lott says he wants to know what happened beyond the video. He said his department will cooperate with the federal investigation.

“The public wants answers. I want answers too and we’re going to get them very quickly, and we’re going to make sure the public knows what we’re going to do and why we’re going to do it. There’s nothing that we’re going to hide at the Sheriff’s Department,” Lott said. “His actions reflect on all of us and I’m about as upset as anybody can be right now.”

Fields will not be back at any school pending the results of an investigation, Lt. Wilson said. Fields is currently on unpaid leave.

According to Heavy.com, the girl was using her cell phone in class and refused to get off it. Then a teacher and administrator told her to leave class. I have to believe there was more going on between this girl and the teacher/administration. We’ll probably learn more in the days to come. Also from Heavy, a student named Aaron Johnson who was in class when the incident happened said the girl was new to the school and was “sitting quietly.”

Johnson said, “When I asked (their teacher) Mr. Long if he felt bad for what happened to her … his reply was ‘she should have cooperated.’”

He added, “I think we were all in shock and afraid they would say something to us, he put another girl in handcuffs for standing up, like standing up for the girl.”

Apparently a boy in the class was also arrested and was still being held yesterday. Read more about Ben Fields past history and more videos at the Heavy link.

Hobby Lobby CEO David Green holding a bible.

Hobby Lobby CEO David Green holding a bible.

The family that owns Hobby Lobby created some bad Karma for itself with its lawsuit over having to provide access to birth control in its health insurance plans, and no it’s coming back to bite them. Exclusive from The Daily Beast: Feds Investigate Hobby Lobby Boss for Illicit Artifacts.

In 2011, a shipment of somewhere between 200 to 300 small clay tablets on their way to Oklahoma City from Israel was seized by U.S. Customs agents in Memphis. The tablets were inscribed in cuneiform—the script of ancient Assyria and Babylonia, present-day Iraq—and were thousands of years old. Their destination was the compound of the Hobby Lobby corporation, which became famous last year for winning a landmark Supreme Court case on religious freedom and government mandates. A senior law enforcement source with extensive knowledge of antiquities smuggling confirmed that these ancient artifacts had been purchased and were being imported by the deeply-religious owners of the crafting giant, the Green family of Oklahoma City. For the last four years, law enforcement sources tell The Daily Beast, the Greens have been under federal investigation for the illicit importation of cultural heritage from Iraq.

These tablets, like the other 40,000 or so ancient artifacts owned by the Green family, were destined for the Museum of the Bible, the giant new museum funded by the Greens, slated to open in Washington, D.C., in 2017. Both the seizure of the cuneiform tablets and the subsequent federal investigation were confirmed to us by Cary Summers, the president of the Museum of the Bible.

If the investigation ends with a decision to prosecute, on either criminal or civil charges, the Greens may be forced to forfeit the tablets to the government. There may also be a fine involved. The Green family, who successfully forced the federal government to legally recognize their personal moral standards, now find themselves on the other side of the docket, under suspicion of having attempted to contravene U.S. laws.

It’s not yet clear if a crime has been committed, but the fact that the investigation has gone on so long suggests that some of the antiquities may have been illegally purchased and imported. Read the rest at the link.

Ben_Carson_SaysA new CBS/NYT poll has Ben Carson leading Donald Trump nationally. CBS reports:

Ben Carson has surpassed Donald Trump and now narrowly leads the Republican field in the race for the nomination in the latest national CBS News/New York Times Poll.

Twenty-six percent of Republican primary voters back Carson, giving him a four-point edge over Trump (22 percent). Support for Carson has quadrupled since August.

The rest of the Republican presidential candidates lag far behind in single digits. Marco Rubio is now in third place (eight percent), followed by Jeb Bush (seven percent) and Carly Fiorina (seven percent). All other candidates are at four percent or lower.

Carson has made gains across many key Republican groups. In a reversal from earlier this month, he is now ahead of Trump among women and is running neck and neck with him among men. Carson’s support among evangelicals has risen and he now leads Trump by more than 20 points with this group.

Carson performs well among conservative Republicans and those who identify as Tea partiers. Trump does well with moderates and leads Carson among those without a college degree – although Trump had a larger advantage with non-college graduates earlier this month.

Ben Carson2

Perhaps we’re going to go through a cycle that resembles what happened in the Republican race in 2012–except that the cycles are longer. Could it be that Donald Trump is on his way out? Of course Trump is claiming the polls are mistaken. From Mediaite:

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump explained on MSNBC’s Morning Joe that the reason rival Ben Carson had surpassed him in recent polls was because they weren’t “scientific.” ….

“I think you have to understand polls…” Trump said. “I believe in polls. I generally believe in polls. The thing with these polls, they are all so different. They are coming from all over the lot where one guy is up here, somebody else is up there, you see swings of ten and twelve points immediately, even the same day.”

Trump actually may have a good point. Anyway, the problem with Ben Carson taking over the lead is that he is even scarier than Trump. Paul Waldman at The Week: How Ben Carson’s snoozy demeanor masks his bonkers views.

Ben Carson is calm — calm like a cool spring breeze, or a long nap on a lazy Sunday afternoon. The Republican presidential hopeful speaks softly and slowly. He doesn’t wave his arms about. He shows barely any emotion at all. But Ben Carson is also the possessor of ideas that are positively bonkers, not just about policy questions, but about the world and how it works.

This odd combination of a gentle manner and extremist ideas seems to be just what a healthy chunk of the Republican electorate is looking for. Carson is running a close second to Donald Trump nationally, and leading in Iowa. As The New York Times recently reported, Iowa voters in particular are enraptured with Carson’s manner. “That smile and his soft voice makes people very comforted,” said one farmer. “I believe someone as mild-mannered and gentlemanly as Ben Carson is just about the only kind of person that could” get things done in Washington, said another Iowan.

You’d think they were talking about someone with moderate views who’d be able to get along and work with anyone, not someone who wants to outlaw abortion even in cases of rape and incest, thinks we should ditch Medicare, and holds to all manner of weird conspiracy theories. And that’s not to mention all the stuff the retired neurosurgeon says about slavery and Nazis, his belief that Muslims should be barred from the presidency unless they offer a public disavowal of their religion, or his latest proposal to turn the Department of Education into something that sounds like it comes out of China’s Cultural Revolution, in which he would have students report professors who displayed political bias to the government so universities’ funding could be cut.

Read the rest at The Week.

Carson

More interesting Ben Carson links:

Inside Higher Ed: Ben Carson explains how he would have education department identify and end “extreme views” on campus.

News Mic: Ben Carson Just Said Women Seeking Abortions are Tantamount to Slave Owners.

Mother Jones: Does Ben Carson Believe Most Evangelical Voters Are Going to Hell?

Dakinikat told me about this amazing and fascinating story about a historical find related to Thomas Jefferson. From NPR: Historic Chemistry Lab With Links To Thomas Jefferson Discovered Behind Wall.

A hidden chemistry lab was unearthed by a worker doing renovations to the iconic Rotunda at the University of Virginia, and school officials say the room is directly linked to the third U.S. president, Thomas Jefferson, who helped design the building.

The “chemical hearth,” which dates back to the 1820s, is thought to be one of the few remaining in the world. It featured two sources of heat for conducting experiments and a system for pulling out fumes.

According to the University of Virginia press release, the room, described as “a semi-circular niche in the north end of the Lower East Oval Room,” was preserved because the walls of the hearth were sealed shut in the mid-1800s:

This photo from the University of Virginia shows a chemical hearth discovered in the Rotunda at the University of Virginia during renovations at the school in Charlottesville, Va. Dan Addison /University of Virginia Communications

This photo from the University of Virginia shows a chemical hearth discovered in the Rotunda at the University of Virginia during renovations at the school in Charlottesville, Va.
Dan Addison /University of Virginia Communications

“The University of Virginia’s Rotunda still has its secrets, as conservators are discovering amid the building’s ongoing two-year renovation.

“One of them is a chemical hearth, part of an early science classroom. It had been sealed in one of the lower-floor walls of the Rotunda since the 1850s, and thus was protected from the 1895 fire that destroyed much of the building’s interior.
“Two small fireboxes of the hearth were uncovered in a 1970s renovation, but the hearth itself remained hidden until the current round of renovations. When preparing for the current renovations, workers examined some of the cavities in the walls and found the rest of the chemistry hearth.”

The discovery was made by Matt Scheidt, who is a project manager for the company overseeing the renovations to the rotunda, according to the Charlottesville Newsplex. Scheidt told the publication he wanted to know how thick the walls were.

 

What else is happening? Please share your thoughts and links in the comment thread and enjoy the rest of your Tuesday.