Tuesday Reads

Frederick Carl Frieseke

Frederick Carl Frieseke

Good Morning!!

Before I get to the depressing news, here’s something positive: Boston suddenly has a Black woman as acting mayor.

WBUR: Kim Janey Becomes First Black Woman To Lead Boston.

Kim Janey shattered two historic barriers when she became acting mayor of Boston Monday evening: She is both the first woman and the first person of color to lead the city.

Janey, a Black woman, was elevated from city council president to acting mayor immediately after Marty Walsh resigned as mayor to take the job of U.S. labor secretary. His resignation came swiftly following the U.S. Senate’s confirmation of his nomination.

“It’s hard to overstate the significance of inaugurating a woman of color as acting mayor of Boston,” said Amanda Hunter, executive director of the Barbara Lee Family Foundation, which advocates for women in politics. “We have exclusively had white, male mayors leading this city for nearly 200 years,” despite Boston becoming increasingly more diverse. For at least two decades, most residents have been non-white or Hispanic. Women also outnumber men in Boston, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Many area residents are celebrating Janey’s elevation and its significance, including Deanna Cook, who met Janey when she had a problem at her high school in 2017. Cook and her twin sister kept getting detention for wearing hair extensions, which are popular among Black girls but violated a dress code set by predominantly white administrators.

“It’s hard to overstate the significance of inaugurating a woman of color as acting mayor of Boston,” said Amanda Hunter, executive director of the Barbara Lee Family Foundation, which advocates for women in politics. “We have exclusively had white, male mayors leading this city for nearly 200 years,” despite Boston becoming increasingly more diverse. For at least two decades, most residents have been non-white or Hispanic. Women also outnumber men in Boston, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Lucy May Stanton

Lucy May Stanton

Many area residents are celebrating Janey’s elevation and its significance, including Deanna Cook, who met Janey when she had a problem at her high school in 2017. Cook and her twin sister kept getting detention for wearing hair extensions, which are popular among Black girls but violated a dress code set by predominantly white administrators.

“We had basically no representation,” Cook said. “We had such difficulty getting the policy turned over, mainly because the people who were in charge didn’t understand and also didn’t care.”

At the time, Janey worked at the nonprofit Massachusetts Advocates for Children. In that role, she argued the ban on hair extensions was discriminatory and helped the Cook sisters change the dress code at the Mystic Valley Regional Charter School in Malden.

A few months later, Janey won a seat on the Boston City Council.

Now for the depressing news: It’s happened again. Yesterday, a man walked into a Boulder, CO supermarket and mowed down 10 people with an AR15-type assault rifle. When will Americans wake up and see the need to control access to these powerful weapons?

NBC News: 10 people dead, including police officer, after shooting at Colorado grocery store.

Ten people died, including a police officer, after a gunman walked into a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado, Monday and began randomly shooting shoppers. The governor of Colorado, a state that has endured multiple mass shootings, called it an “unspeakable tragedy.”

The officer, Eric Talley, 51, an 11-year veteran of the Boulder police force, was the first officer to arrive at the King Soopers grocery store Monday afternoon, Police Chief Maris Herold said. He had been dispatched after gunfire was reported, she said.

Herold provided no details about the other victims. She said a suspect who was injured in the shooting is in custody. She didn’t provide details about a potential motive.

Earlier, a police commander, Eric Yamaguchi, said there was no ongoing threat. He said it was unclear whether the person had a connection to King Soopers.

Live video from outside the King Soopers showed SWAT vehicles and dozens of police officers, many in tactical gear and camouflage, around the store. Some of its front windows appeared to have been shattered.

A man with his hands behind his back could be seen leaving the store with authorities. It wasn’t clear whether the man, who was wearing no shirt or pants and had blood streaming down his leg, was the person of interest.

The Guardian: ‘I couldn’t help anybody’: Colorado witnesses describe terror as shots rang out.

Sarah Moonshadow, 42, a customer and resident of Boulder, was in the store with her son, Nicholas, on Monday and recounted scenes of pandemonium as gunfire rang out.

“We were at the checkout, and shots just started going off,” Moonshadow told Reuters. “And I said, ‘Nicholas get down.’ And Nicholas ducked. And we just started listening and there, just repetitive shots … and I just said, ‘Nicholas, run.’”

Moonshadow said she tried to help a victim she saw lying on the pavement just outside the store, but her son pulled her away, telling her, “We have to go.” She broke down as she said: “I couldn’t help anybody.” [….]

Quiet, James Jacques Tissot

Quiet, James Jacques Tissot

The bloodshed came less than a week after gun violence last Tuesday that left eight people dead, including six Asian women, at three day spas in and around Atlanta.

Ryan Borowski was inside the store when the shooting began. He told CNN: “I saw terrified faces running towards me and that’s when I turned and ran the other direction.” He said staff helped customers to exit from the back of the store but some people froze. “We ran and I don’t know why other people didn’t and I am sorry that they froze and I just wish that this didn’t happen – I wish I had an answer for why it did,” he said.

Alex Arellano, 35, was working in the meat department at King Soopers when he heard gunshots and saw people running for the exit. “I thought I was going to die,” he told the New York Times, when he heard the shot getting closer. “I’m thinking of my parents, and I was freaking out.” He hid with two other men before escaping through a rear exit.

Just a short time ago, Boulder’s assault weapons ban was lifted after a lawsuit by a gun rights group.

The Washington Post: Boulder’s assault weapons ban, meant to stop mass shootings, was blocked 10 days before grocery store attack.

The city of Boulder, Colo., barred assault weapons in 2018, as a way to prevent mass shootings like the one that killed 17 at a high school in Parkland., Fla., earlier that year.

But 10 days after that ban was blocked in court, the city was rocked by its own tragedy: Ten people, including a Boulder police officer, were killed at a supermarket in the city’s south end on Monday after a gunman opened fire, law enforcement officials said….

…for Dawn Reinfeld, co-founder of the Colorado gun violence prevention group Blue Rising,the “appalling” timing of the court decision was hard to ignore.

Michael Ancher

Michael Ancher

“We tried to protect our city,” she told The Washington Post. “It’s so tragic to see the legislation struck down, and days later, to have our city experience exactly what we were trying to prevent.”

Rachel Friend, a city council member, made a similar observation on Twitter, adding she was “heartsick and angry and mostly so, so sad.”

But the Colorado State Shooting Association, one of the plaintiffs that sued Boulder over the assault weapons ban, rejected that sentiment, arguing in a statement that “emotional sensationalism” about gun laws would cloud remembrance of the victims.

“There will be a time for the debate on gun laws. There will be a time for the discussion on motives. There will be a time for a conversation on how this could have been prevented,” the group said in a statement. “But today is not the time.”

For these awful people, that time will never come. Guns are more important to them than human lives.

The Denver Post: Analyzing Colorado’s high rate of mass shootings following the King Soopers killings.

Tom Sullivan last week took to the lectern on the floor of the Colorado House of Representatives and noted that it was the 452nd Friday since his son, Alex, was murdered at the Aurora movie theater shooting. On Monday when he learned of the Boulder King Soopers shooting, he thought of those whose own tallies would now begin.

“There are going to be people who are counting down their Mondays, because they’ve been through this as well,” said Sullivan, a state representative from Aurora.

Colorado has a disproportionate share of survivors of gun violence and of people like Sullivan, whose loved ones were killed. A 2019 analysis by The Denver Post found Colorado had more mass shootings per capita than all but four states. The Census-designated Denver metropolitan statistical area had more school shootings per capita since 1999 than any of the country’s 24 other largest metro areas.

“What we’re looking at now,” said Frank DeAngelis, the principal at Columbine High during the 1999 massacre, “is an issue for society, happening in schools, in Colorado in movie theaters, in churches around the country, airports. We’re a country, a world, of violence.”

Karin Reading, Carl Larsson

Karin Reading, Carl Larsson

He worries about people growing numb, about the reflex Americans have developed to ask, upon hearing of another mass shooting, “How many this time?”

And DeAngelis worries about the collective trauma of a citizenry exposed so repeatedly to tragedy at places like the meat section of a grocery store or the screening of a Batman movie, where Alex Sullivan was killed.

“It’s somewhere that my wife goes to after school, and her students shop there for lunch break. It’s just a very normal setting,” state Sen. Steve Fenberg said of the King Soopers. The store is in his district, and a commercial anchor in south Boulder’s main community gathering spot.

Fenberg Monday, “I’m sorry, but I don’t have thoughts or prayers to offer; mostly anger.”

More stories to check out today:

The New York Times: Senator Ron Johnson has spread misinformation on the virus, the election, the Capitol riot, even Greenland’s greenness.

ProPublica: Mo Brooks Compared Biden’s Election to the Start of the Civil War. Now He Wants a Senate Seat.

The Washington Post: There’s no migrant ‘surge’ at the U.S. southern border. Here’s the data.

Ryan Cooper at The Week: There is no immigration crisis.

The Washington Post: USPS chief DeJoy said to cut post office hours, lengthen delivery times in 10-year plan.

CNN: Former Capitol riot prosecutor’s comments on Trump alarm new no-drama Justice Department.

The New York Times: Justice Dept. Said to Be Weighing Sedition Charges Against Oath Keepers.

The Washington Post: Trump officials hindered at least nine key oversight probes, watchdogs said. Some may finally be released in coming months.

The Washington Post: Thanks to Trump-era covid relief bill, a UFO report may soon be public — and it’ll be big, ex-official says.

As always, this is an open thread. What’s on your mind?


Thursday Reads

A statue depicting Christopher Columbus is seen with its head removed at Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park on June 10, 2020 in Boston. (Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images)

Good Morning!!

The movement inspired by the murder of George Floyd has inspired more than the Black Lives Matter protests. People are toppling statues now, and not just the ones of confederate traitors.

Someone beheaded the Christopher Columbus statue in Boston’s North End yesterday. (The North End used to be Boston’s “little Italy.”) WBZ (CBS) Boston: Beheaded Christopher Columbus Statue In Boston Will Be Removed From North End Park.

The Christopher Columbus statue in Boston’s North End will be removed after it was beheaded early Wednesday morning. Mayor Marty Walsh said it will be put in storage and there will now be conversations about the “historic meaning” of the incident and whether it will ever go back up.

The statue in Christopher Columbus Park on Atlantic Avenue was surrounded by crime scene tape as the head lay on the ground next to the base.

Now, as police investigate how it happened, local indigenous groups are calling on the mayor to remove the statue for good.

“It’s a park dedicated to white supremacy,” said Mahtowin Munro of the United American Indians of New England. “It’s a park dedicated to indigenous genocide.” [….]

The head was also cut off back in 2006. The statue was doused with red paint in June 2015 with the words “Black Lives Matter” spray-painted on the base.

Another statue of Columbus was taken down at Minnesota’s state capitol in St. Paul. Minneapolis Star-Tribune: Protesters topple Columbus statue on Minnesota Capitol grounds.

Protesters lassoed a statue of Christopher Columbus outside the State Capitol Wednesday afternoon and pulled it to the ground, saying their action was a step toward healing for Indian communities.

People danced in a circle around the Christopher Columbus statue after it was toppled on Wednesday night on the Minnesota State Capitol grounds in St. Paul.

Dozens of people gathered by the statue on the grounds outside the Capitol before pulling it down. American Indian Movement activist Mike Forcia talked to a State Patrol captain sent to the scene to encourage protesters to follow a legal process for removing the statue, which has stood on the Capitol grounds since 1931. Forcia said they had tried that route many times and it had not worked.

The protesters then looped a rope around the statue and quickly pulled it off the stone pedestal and to the ground. The patrol officer watched from a distance as protesters sang and took photos with the statue for about half an hour.

State officials said they had been warned about the action via social media. It was mentioned at a news conference an hour and a half earlier with Gov. Tim Walz. Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said then that the patrol would meet the protesters and seek an alternative resolution.

In Richmond, VA, a Columbus statue was pulled down, set on fire, and rolled into a lake. Another Columbus statue was vandalized in Houston and another in Miami.

Two other stories of note on the topic of racism and Black Lives Matter protests:

Associated Press: Pope sends strong message to US Catholics after Floyd death.

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis called George Floyd by name, twice, and offered support to an American bishop who knelt in prayer during a Black Lives Matter protest.

Cardinals black and white have spoken out about Floyd’s death, and the Vatican’s communications juggernaut has shifted into overdrive to draw attention to the cause he now represents.

Christopher Columbus statue dumped in lake in Richmond, VA

Under normal circumstances, Floyd’s killing at the hands of a white police officer and the global protests denouncing racism and police brutality might have drawn a muted diplomatic response from the Holy See. But in a U.S. election year, the intensity and consistency of the Vatican’s reaction suggests that, from the pope on down, it is seeking to encourage anti-racism protesters while making a clear statement about where American Catholics should stand ahead of President Donald Trump’s bid for a second term in November….

Last week, Francis denounced the “sin of racism” and twice identified Floyd as the victim of a “tragic” killing. In a message read in Italian and English during his general audience, Francis expressed concerns about violence during the protests, saying it was self-destructive.

Read more at the link.

CNN: A Missouri woman asked Merriam-Webster to update its definition of racism and now officials will make the change.

Kennedy Mitchum wasn’t expecting much when she emailed Merriam-Webster last month, but she wanted to let the dictionary publisher know that she thought its definition of the word racism was inadequate.

So she was surprised when an editor responded and even more surprised that the company agreed to update the entry.

Mitchum has gotten into a lot conversations about racism and injustice where people have pointed to the dictionary to prove that they’re not racist. It’s happened a lot more lately as the world reacts to the death of George Floyd while in the custody of four Minneapolis police officers….

Kennedy Mitchum

“I kept having to tell them that definition is not representative of what is actually happening in the world,” she told CNN. “The way that racism occurs in real life is not just prejudice it’s the systemic racism that is happening for a lot of black Americans.”
Merriam-Webster’s first definition of racism is “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.” [….]

Mitchum said she sent her email on a Thursday night and got a reply from editor Alex Chambers the next morning.

After a few emails, Chambers agreed that the entry should be updated and said a new definition is being drafted.

“This revision would not have been made without your persistence in contacting us about this problem,” Chambers said in the email, which was provided to CNN. “We sincerely thank you for repeatedly writing in and apologize for the harm and offense we have caused in failing to address this issue sooner.”

Meanwhile, a backlash against Trump and his pet AG Bill Barr is building over the violent clearing of Lafayette Square to facilitation Trump’s ludicrous Bible photo op last week.

Tom McCarthy at The Guardian: ‘An abuse of power’: alarm grows over top Trump lieutenant’s military masquerade.

…[T]he top law enforcement official in the country, the attorney general, William Barr, is facing an internal crisis of confidence and growing calls for his own resignation.

Barr stands accused of directing violence against peaceful demonstrators outside the White House earlier this month, and with peddling a conspiracy theory advanced by Donald Trump in an attempt to smear protesters, who enjoy wide public support.

Trump/Barr attack on protesters in Lafayette Park

In the first 16 months of his tenure, Barr caught criticism for compromising justice department independence with his seemingly lockstep defense of Trump, whether he was protecting the president from the investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller or intervening in criminal cases against the former Trump aides Michael Flynn and Roger Stone.

But Barr’s critics now fear that he has taken a new step, of trying on a military hat as the president’s top lieutenant in the antagonistic posture the White House has taken against street protests that have sprung up after the killing of George Floyd, an African American man, in Minneapolis by white police officers.

A bit more:

The attorney general’s denial at the weekend that systemic racism was a problem in US law enforcement prompted new calls for his resignation.

“I think there’s racism in the United States still, but I don’t think that the law enforcement system is systemically racist,” Barr told CBS News’ Face the Nation. “And I would say, you know, the president, before any of this happened, was out in front on this issue.”

On no planet has Trump been “out in front” in the campaign against racist policing, said Kandace Montgomery, director of Black Visions, a Twin Cities-based activist organization.

“William Barr is a white man who is serving a racist administration, so of course he’s going to deny the fact that the current law enforcement system is systemically racist,” Montgomery said.

Bill Barr checking out the “troops” before ordering them to attack peaceful protesters.

The Washington Post: More than 1,250 former Justice Dept. workers call for internal watchdog to probe Barr role in clearing demonstrators from Lafayette Square.

More than 1,250 former Justice Department workers on Wednesday called on the agency’s internal watchdog to investigate Attorney General William P. Barr’s involvement in law enforcement’s move last week to push a crowd of largely peaceful demonstrators back from Lafayette Square using horses and gas.

In a letter to Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, the group said it was “deeply concerned about the Department’s actions, and those of Attorney General William Barr himself, in response to the nationwide lawful gatherings to protest the systemic racism that has plagued this country throughout its history.”

“In particular, we are disturbed by Attorney General Barr’s possible role in ordering law enforcement personnel to suppress a peaceful domestic protest in Lafayette Square on June 1, 2020, for the purpose of enabling President Trump to walk across the street from the White House and stage a photo op at St. John’s Church, a politically motivated event in which Attorney General Barr participated,” the group wrote.

The group asked Horowitz to “immediately open and conduct an investigation of the full scope of the Attorney General’s and the DOJ’s role” in that and other events.

“The rule of law, the maintenance of the Department’s integrity, and the very safety of our citizens demand nothing less,” the group wrote.

Barr was also publicly excoriated by former Judge John Gleeson for his attempt to drop charges against Michael Flynn. Paul Waldman at The Washington Post: A retired judge’s sharp rebuke of William Barr confirms the worst.

Judge John Gleeson

Back in May, long after Flynn had pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents in their investigation into Russia’s attack on the 2016 election — which got him fired as national security adviser after 24 days on the job — Barr took the extraordinary step of seeking to drop the case against him before he could be sentenced. In response, the judge in the case asked a respected retired judge to make a recommendation about how this highly unusual situation should be handled.

That retired judge, John Gleeson, not only recommended that Flynn be sentenced as planned but issued a scathing report condemning the Justice Department’s actions in the case:

In his argument, Gleeson said the government’s “ostensible grounds” for seeking dismissal were “conclusively disproven” by its own earlier briefs; contradict the court’s prior orders and Justice Department positions taken in other cases; and “are riddled with inexplicable and elementary errors of law and fact.”

A former federal prosecutor and judge for 22 years in Brooklyn — best known for putting the late mob boss John Gotti behind bars and presiding over the trial of “Wolf of Wall Street” stockbroker Jordan Belfort — Gleeson wrote that judges are empowered to protect their court’s integrity “from prosecutors who undertake corrupt, politically motivated dismissals. That is what has happened here. The Government has engaged in highly irregular conduct to benefit a political ally of the President.”

Not only that, Gleeson stated that “Flynn has indeed committed perjury in these proceedings, for which he deserves punishment,” but recommended that instead of a separate prosecution, Flynn’s misdeeds should be taken into account when he is sentenced for the crime he pleaded guilty to.

Read the rest at the WaPo.

Of course there is much more news out there. I’ll add some links in the comment thread and I hope you will too.


Lazy Saturday Reads

Newsstand, by Max Ginsburg

Happy Saturday!!

I spent yesterday in my cozy apartment with uninterrupted electricity, TV, and internet; but outside my refuge, the Boston area was hit by a massive storm. Some parts of Massachusetts had 90 mph wind gusts, and wind gusts of 40 to 50 mph will continue through the day today. Today’s noon high tide is still likely to be dangerous.

The Boston Globe has a collection of photos from the storm if you’re interested. One example:

Water floods from Boston Harbor onto Seaport Boulevard in the Seaport district of Boston. — Greg Cooper EPA-EFE REX Shutterstock

 

Here’s a video from downtown Boston that I found on Twitter that will give you an idea of what the winds were like.

I hope all you Sky Dancers along the East Coast are safe and warm today!

In other news, Trump has decamped to Florida, and I hope he’ll be busy enough with golf to leave the rest of us alone for awhile. This golfing trip represents a “milestone” for him though.

CNN: A presidential milestone: Trump has spent 100 days in office at one of his golf clubs.

President Donald Trump reached a presidential milestone at his Palm Beach County, Florida, golf club on Saturday: One hundred days in office at a golf club that bears his name.

Trump, once a critic of presidential golfing, has ignored his own advice and made a habit of visiting some of the many golf courses emblazoned in his moniker. The habit is part of the broader trend of the President and first lady making frequent trips to properties owned and operated by the Trump Organization.

Bill Day / Cagle Cartoons

According to CNN’s count, Trump has exclusively visited four golf clubs he owns during his presidency: Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Florida; Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Florida; Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia; and Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey.

Trump has spent 36 days at his Florida club and 40 days at his New Jersey course and made the short trip from the White House to his Virginia club 23 times. He golfed once at his Jupiter course with professional golfers Tiger Woods, Dustin Johnson and Brad Faxon.

In total, Trump has spent nearly 25% of his days in office at one of his golf clubs. It is impossible to know whether Trump golfs every time he visits one of his golf clubs because White House aides rarely confirm that he is golfing, and Trump has, at times, visited his golf clubs to eat a meal or meet with people.

Melania went to Florida with Trump, and here’s how he treated her while he rushed to get out of the wind and onto Air Force One.

Imagine if Obama had done that to Michelle? But it’s nothing new for our asshole in chief.

One reason Trump may have been so “unglued” lately (besides the Russia investigation) is that he’s apparently on a diet. Bloomberg: Trump Swaps His Beloved Burgers for Salads and Soups in New Diet.

The president whose trademark campaign-trail dinner consisted of two McDonald’s Big Macs, two Filet-o-Fish sandwiches and a chocolate milkshake is cutting back on doctor’s orders to drop a few pounds, according to three people familiar with the matter. Less red meat, more fish.

One person said it’s been two weeks since he saw the president eat a hamburger.

It’s not just the president, though. Jackson and the vice president’s doctor, Jennifer Pena, are pushing healthy food choices throughout the West Wing.

Trump so far has embraced the new regimen, giving aides the impression he feels he is thriving on his new diet, they said.

Still, he is allowing himself indulgences. He ate bacon at breakfast one day this week.

Something very newsworthy has been happening in West Virginia, but national news outlets are only just beginning to cover it.

The New York Times: ‘All-In or Nothing’: How West Virginia’s Teacher Strike Was Months in the Making.

GILBERT, W. Va — Home from a long day teaching English last month at Mingo Central High School, Robin Ellis told her husband the latest talk among the teachers. They were tired of low pay and costly health benefits — and they were mulling a “rolling strike,” in which teachers in a few counties would walk out each day.

“You don’t want to do that,” Donnie Ellis, her husband, said. As a veteran of strip mines and the intense labor conflicts that often came with them, he knew what made some strikes succeed and others crumble.

“It’s got to be all-in or nothing,” he said.

It has definitely been all-in in West Virginia. For seven days now, teachers have refused to work in all 55 counties, shutting down every school in the state.

Teachers and supporters rally outside West Virginia State House Photograph by Craig Hudson Charleston Gazette AP

Every school day since last Thursday, thousands of red- and black-clad teachers, bus drivers and cooks have descended on Charleston to fill the halls of the State Capitol, chanting and singing defiantly in one of the few statewide teachers’ strikes in American history.

On Friday, as thousands crowded into the Capitol, all of the energy was directed at the State Senate, which has yet to take up a bill that would grant teachers a 5 percent pay raise — despite support for the measure by the governor, the Republican-controlled House and the state’s superintendents.

Click on the NYT link to read the rest.

More from the AP via The Chicago Tribune: Statewide West Virginia teacher strike enters day 7 without classes; state Senate nixes vote.

The West Virginia teachers’ strike rolled into its second weekend with the state Senate planning to meet Saturday after declining to take a vote on whether the teachers will get the 5 percent pay raise negotiated by Gov. Jim Justice and union leaders.

Senate Republicans have repeatedly emphasized spending restraint while saying the teachers and West Virginia’s other public workers are all underpaid.

Hundreds of teachers and supporters, including students, rallied at the Capitol on Friday, the seventh day they’ve shuttered classrooms.

Teachers are protesting pay that’s among the lowest in the nation, rising health care costs and a previously approved 2 percent raise for next year after four years without any increase.

“We’re still not close to resolving this critical issue,” said Sen. Roman Prezioso, the Democratic minority leader, requesting the vote Friday. “Let’s send the teachers and superintendents that I’ve seen here from all the different counties, send them home this weekend for a cooling off period. Let’s start school Monday and say this Senate does support education in West Virginia.”

Read the rest at the link.

Here’s another local story that is getting more attention–this is for you, JJ. The Louisville Courier-Journal: Kentucky’s ‘child bride’ bill stalls as groups fight to let 13-year-olds wed.

FRANKFORT, Ky. — A bill to make 18 the legal age for marriage in Kentucky has stalled in a Senate committee amid concerns about the rights of parents to allow children to wed at a younger age, according to several lawmakers.

Known as the “child bride” bill, Senate Bill 48 was pulled off the agenda just hours before a scheduled vote by the Senate Judiciary Committee for the second time in two weeks.

Donna Pollard, who married an older man at age 16, is working for a bill that would raise the legal age for marriage to 18 in Kentucky.

“SO disappointed! My SB 48 (outlaw child marriage) won’t be called for a vote,” sponsor  Julie Raque Adams, a Louisville Republican, said in a Tweet early Thursday. “It is disgusting that lobbying organizations would embrace kids marrying adults. We see evidence of parents who are addicted, abusive, neglectful pushing their children into predatory arms. Appalling.”

Eileen Recktenwald, the executive director of the Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs, was more outspoken.

“This is legalized rape of children,” she said. “We cannot allow that to continue in Kentucky, and I cannot believe we are even debating this is the year 2018 in the United States.”

The bill’s supporters have said underage marriages most often involve a teenage girl marrying an older man and may have involved sexual exploitation of the girl.

Guess who’s getting credit for killing the bill? If you guessed right wing “Christians,” you’re right. Patheos:

According to reports, a bill to outlaw child marriage in Kentucky has been indefinitely delayed after opposition from the conservative Family Foundation of Kentucky, a powerful lobbying group backed by conservative Christians in the state.

The Courier-Journal reports Senate Bill 48, Known as the “child bride” bill, has been stalled in committee after the conservative Christian group expressed “concerns about the rights of parents to allow children to wed at a younger age.”

 

Sherry Johnson, Florida based anti child marriage campaigner who was forced to marry aged 11 in 1971. Photograph by Katharina Bracher

Raw Story explains the legislation:

The modest bill would not totally ban child marriages, but would require a judge to review records to make sure that the child was not the victim of abuse, that there are not domestic violence incident involving either party and that the adult is not a registered sex-offender. The bill would require that the judge deny the right to marry if there was a pregnancy that resulted from the adult spouse molesting the child.

However, this “modest bill” protecting children from being forced into marriage by their parents, is perceived as a threat by conservative Christian lawmakers in Kentucky.

These “Christians” claim the bill would interfere with “parental rights.” The rights of young girls are of course irrelevant.

I have more stories to share; I’ll give them to you links only.

The Week: Hope Hicks apparently kept a White House diary. (I imagine Bob Mueller is already working on the subpoena!)

Gabriel Sherman at Vanity Fair: “She’s in Immense Personal Jeopardy”: Even for Hope Hicks the White House Got Too Hot.

Jessica Valenti at The Guardian: With Hope Hicks’ exit, we can’t let Trump’s female allies off the hook.

The Washington Post: Days before the election, Stormy Daniels threatened to cancel deal to keep alleged affair with Trump secret.

ABC News: Jared Kushner entanglements increasingly concern President Trump: Sources.

CBS News: John Kelly’s comment about God punishing him with chief of staff job aggravated Trump.

The Washington Post: Trump picks tough-on-crime crusader with history of racial remarks for criminal justice post.

The Washington Post: Trump pushes Republicans to oppose crucial New York-New Jersey tunnel project.

The Dallas News: Texas early voting numbers a ‘wake-up call’ for GOP as Democrats double their 2014 turnout.

Associated Press: Roy Moore pleads for money, saying resources ‘depleted.’

So . . . What’s on your mind? What stories are you following today?

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Thursday Reads

Dream Series 5 The Library by Jacob Lawrence 1967

Good Afternoon!!

Before I get to today’s news, I want to call attention to this investigative article in The New Yorker on legal elderly abuse. The author, Rachel Aviv, deeply researched the guardianship system in Nevada, but this apparently happens in other states as well. It’s a long read, but well worth it, especially for those of us who have elderly parents–and who are getting older ourselves.

How the Elderly Lose Their Rights

For years, Rudy North woke up at 9 a.m. and read the Las Vegas Review-Journal while eating a piece of toast. Then he read a novel—he liked James Patterson and Clive Cussler—or, if he was feeling more ambitious, Freud. On scraps of paper and legal notepads, he jotted down thoughts sparked by his reading. “Deep below the rational part of our brain is an underground ocean where strange things swim,” he wrote on one notepad. On another, “Life: the longer it cooks, the better it tastes.”

Rennie, his wife of fifty-seven years, was slower to rise. She was recovering from lymphoma and suffered from neuropathy so severe that her legs felt like sausages. Each morning, she spent nearly an hour in the bathroom applying makeup and lotions, the same brands she’d used for forty years. She always emerged wearing pale-pink lipstick. Rudy, who was prone to grandiosity, liked to refer to her as “my amour.”

In the Library, John Watkins Chapman

On the Friday before Labor Day, 2013, the Norths had just finished their toast when a nurse, who visited five times a week to help Rennie bathe and dress, came to their house, in Sun City Aliante, an “active adult” community in Las Vegas. They had moved there in 2005, when Rudy, a retired consultant for broadcasters, was sixty-eight and Rennie was sixty-six. They took pride in their view of the golf course, though neither of them played golf.

Rudy chatted with the nurse in the kitchen for twenty minutes, joking about marriage and laundry, until there was a knock at the door. A stocky woman with shiny black hair introduced herself as April Parks, the owner of the company A Private Professional Guardian. She was accompanied by three colleagues, who didn’t give their names. Parks told the Norths that she had an order from the Clark County Family Court to “remove” them from their home. She would be taking them to an assisted-living facility. “Go and gather your things,” she said.

Rennie began crying. “This is my home,” she said.

One of Parks’s colleagues said that if the Norths didn’t comply he would call the police. Rudy remembers thinking, You’re going to put my wife and me in jail for this? But he felt too confused to argue.

Parks drove a Pontiac G-6 convertible with a license plate that read “crtgrdn,” for “court guardian.” In the past twelve years, she had been a guardian for some four hundred wards of the court. Owing to age or disability, they had been deemed incompetent, a legal term that describes those who are unable to make reasoned choices about their lives or their property. As their guardian, Parks had the authority to manage their assets, and to choose where they lived, whom they associated with, and what medical treatment they received. They lost nearly all their civil rights.

That’s just the introduction. I hope you’ll go read the rest.

The Library, Elizabeth Shippen Green, 1905

The Las Vegas gun massacre continues to dominate the news. I’d like to recommend a couple of positive articles coming out of the horror. You may have read this one by Wesley Lowery of the Washington Post already, but just in case: Two strangers bond over country music and beer. Then the gunshots started.

Up-and-coming country star Luke Combs had just started his set on the smaller of the two festival stages when Kody Robertson, an auto parts salesman from Columbus, Ohio, squeezed in at the end of the bar next to Michelle Vo, an insurance agent from Los Angeles.

The 32-year-olds connected immediately. They joked about their mutual love of golf. He recommended new beers for her to try as she showed him the large floral tattoo covering much of her back. They realized that they were both staying at the Luxor.

A longtime country music fan, Robertson was in Vegas with a group of friends and told Vo about the fun they’d had at last year’s Route 91 Harvest festival. Vo replied that she’d only recently fallen for the genre; this was her first festival. She was here alone. By the time the night’s final act took the main stage, the fast friends had settled into a spot about 20 yards from the right side of the stage, nestled between a few cuddly married couples and a rambunctious bachelorette party.

It was 10:08 p.m. Robertson and Vo searched the air for the fireworks they assumed they were hearing. Then came a second burst: indiscriminate gunfire hailing from a 32nd-floor window at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.

Screams punctuated the pop-pop-pop. Jason Aldean, the headline act, ran from the stage. A bullet pierced the left side of Vo’s chest.

“She got hit and I turned and saw her immediately fall to the ground,” Robertson recalls. “She was literally right beside me, maybe two feet away.”

Robertson threw his body on top of hers as a shield from the bullets and, when the firing finally seemed to stop, worked with another man to carry Vo out of the venue — pausing for cover each time the gunfire resumed.

Robertson could have just left it there, but instead he recovered Vo’s purse and cell phone and embarked on a long search to find Michelle as well as communicating with her family. If you haven’t read it already, please do. Lowery’s writing is just brilliant.

The Daily Beast: Unarmed Security Guard Took On Las Vegas Killer Stephen Paddock.

LAS VEGAS—Jesus Campos had no firearm when he found Stephen Paddockand approached his room on the 32rd floor of Mandalay Bay on Sunday night.

Paddock, who had rigged cameras in the hallway and on the peephole of the door, saw Campos coming and fired through the door, hitting him in the leg, said Dave Hickey, president of the International Union, Security, Police and Fire Professionals of America. The union represents Campos and hundreds of security guards at Mandalay Bay.

The Library, Hotel Lambert, Alexandre Serebriakoff

When Campos was hit, he radioed casino dispatch and told them his location—and Paddock’s.

“We received information via their dispatch center…that helped us locate where this individual was sequestered,” Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo told reporters Tuesday.

When Campos first arrived on the 32nd floor, he did so by elevator because Paddock had somehow blocked stairwell doors leading to the hallway outside of his room, Hickey said. The door to the room itself was also barricaded, Campos found when he tried to open it, just before the bullets came through the door.

Police officers subsequently approached the room and were met with 200 rounds from Paddock, Lombardo said on Wednesday night. Police fell back until SWAT arrived.

Campos, wounded, stayed on the floor and even went door-to-door, clearing rooms with police, Lombardo said, until he was ordered to leave because he was wounded.

Click on the link to read the rest. Here are a few more stories you might want to check out.

The New York Times: Las Vegas Shooting: Investigators Grapple With Gunman’s ‘Secret Life’

Las Vegas Journal-Review: Las Vegas Strip shooter targeted aviation fuel tanks, source says.

BBC News: Las Vegas shooting: Paddock may have planned to escape.

NBC Boston: Sources: Las Vegas Shooter TheResearched Possible Boston Locations.

Chicago Tribune: Chicago police investigating reports that Las Vegas gunman booked hotel rooms overlooking Lollapalooza.

The Library, WindsorCastle, 1838 James Baker Pyne

The massacre in Las Vegas has completely overshadowed the Puerto Rico crisis in the headlines, but the situation there is still dire. NPR reports: 112 Degrees With No Water: Puerto Rican Hospitals Battle Life And Death Daily.

Every day across Puerto Rico, with its shattered power grid, hospitals are waging a life-and-death battle to keep their patients from getting sicker in the tropical heat. Now two weeks after the storm, about three-quarters of Puerto Rico’s hospitals remain on emergency power. This creates dangerous conditions for critically ill patients.

At the Pavia Arecibo Hospital, about an hour west of San Juan, administrator Jose Luis Rodriguez wipes sweat from his worried brow. “We don’t have any air conditioning,” he says. “We can handle maybe a week, but it’s already been two weeks almost.”

The government calls them “indirect deaths” – those who died after the violent storm: heart attack victims, people on kidney dialysis machines that failed, people who fell off roofs inspecting storm damage, and people killed in auto accidents on highways made more treacherous from Maria’s destruction.

“So far after the storm we have had 49 dead bodies,” says Rodriguez. Earlier this week, the governor of Puerto Rico raised the official fatality figure for Hurricane Maria from 16 people to 34. But with unofficial reports like the one from Arecibo, that number is expected to rise.

More at the link.

USA Today: Puerto Rico health system on life support two weeks after Hurricane Maria.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Two weeks after Hurricane Maria toppled Puerto Rico’s communications towers, wrecked its electrical grid and knocked out power to water systems, medical officials said the island’s health system is “on life support.”

Among the multiple impacts that have left the island’s medical system deeply damaged:

-Patients are dying because of complications related to the primitive conditions and difficult transportation issues so many island residents now endure.

-A lack of transportation in small towns makes it difficult to transfer patients to larger hospitals.

-An administrator in a small-town hospital has to drive her car to an ambulance company a mile away to ask for a patient to be transferred to a larger hospital.

– Severe lack of communications on the island has resulted in less triage and coordination between hospitals, and more patients arriving at large medical centers than usual, which has stretched capacity.

-Doctors are afraid to discharge patients after surgery to places with unsanitary conditions and where care and transportation may not exist, adding strain to an already strained system.

Other stories of possible interest:

The Guardian: Trump came to Puerto Rico like an emperor: with pomp and little sympathy.

GQ: Turns Out Trump Spent His Puerto Rico Trip “Helping” in the Wealthy Suburbs.

Chicago Tribune: Trump said he wants to bail out Puerto Rico. His budget head says he didn’t mean it.

This is turning out to be a link dump, because there is so much news. I haven’t even gotten to the latest stories on the Russia investigation, and I’m running out of space. Some links to explore:

Business Insider: ‘The issue of collusion is still open’: Top senators hint the Russia probe is heating up.

Newsweek: Russia Investigation: Tell-Tale Signs Trump is Expecting the Worst.

Bloomberg: Russia Needed Help Targeting U.S. Voters, Two Former CIA Leaders Say.

Talking Points Memo: Russia Appeared To Target Wisconsin’s Elections Body Via A Banner Or Popup Ad.

Politico: Trump pushes for Senate intel panel probe of ‘Fake News Networks’ in U.S. (What a moron!)

CNN: FBI chief on Russian hacking: We ‘should have seen this coming.’

What else is happening? What stories are you following?


Thursday Reads

Good Morning!!

Hurricane Irma is still headed for Florida and then will move up the coast. The Weather Channel: States of Emergency Issued, Evacuations Ordered as Florida, Georgia, Carolinas Prepare for Irma.

As the dangerous Category 5 Hurricane Irma barrels toward southeast of Florida, officials in the Sunshine State, Georgia and the Carolinas have declared disasters and ordered evacuations.

The storm, which has undergone rapid intensification in the past several days is now the strongest Atlantic hurricane in the last 10 years, a dangerous Category 5, which made landfall overnight packing winds of 185 mph on the Caribbean island of Barbuda.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott said in a news conference Wednesday that Irma can still go anywhere and the entire state needs to be prepared.

“The storm is massive and the storm surge is predicted to go for miles. In some instances, it could cover homes and go very far inland,” Scott said.

He urged urgent preparation:

  • “Every family needs to have a plan. …Do not sit and wait. Prepare right now.”
  • “Do not ignore evacuation orders.”
  • “Take what you need to evacuate. Don’t take extra.”

Read more about Florida’s preparations at the link.

Cars sit on a flooded street on the island of Saint-Martin after Hurricane Irma passed through

The Miami Herald: South Florida comes under hurricane watch with weekend strike likely.

South Florida came under hurricane and storm surge watches Thursday morning as powerful Hurricane Irma steamed toward the peninsula on track for a weekend strike.

Tropical storm force winds could begin battering the Keys and South Florida Saturday afternoon, National Hurricane Center forecasters said in their latest advisory. The fierce center of the Cat 5 storm is also increasingly likely to plow across the state’s crowded east coast, and it’s more than 6 million residents, in three to four days.

The hurricane and storm surge watches cover much of the South Florida coast, from Jupiter Inlet south and up the west coast to Bonita Beach, including the Keys. Water levels could reach from between five and 10 feet above ground level in the storm surge watch area, forecasters said.

Because Irma is such a large hurricane, the storm surge could be widespread and life-threatening, said senior hurricane specialist Mike Brennan, with waters moving further inland along the Gulf.

Presumably, the storm will keep moving on up the coast. It’s not clear yet how it will impact us up here in New England, but environmental experts are trying to prepare Boston for future storms as the sea level rises from climate change. The Boston Globe: What a future sea barrier in Boston would look like.

According a city-sponsored report published last December, sea levels are forecasted to rise eight inches from 2000 to 2030 due to climate change. By 2050, they are expected to increase up to 1.5 feet — and by 2070, up to three feet.

Palm trees buckle under winds and rain as Hurricane Irma slammed across islands in the northern Caribbean on Wednesday, in Fajardo, Puerto Rico Sept. 6, 2017.

The chances of a Harvey-esque 50 inches of rain are minuscule in Boston. But with the expected sea level rise, a one-in-100- or one-in-10-year storm (Harvey was a one-in-1,000-year storm) would put many Boston neighborhoods underwater, according to the report, Climate Ready Boston. Even monthly high tides would flood 5 percent of the city’s real estate market value toward the end of the century, officials said.

With the sea level rise expected within roughly 30 to 50 years, major storms could make neighborhoods including East Boston, the South End, and the Seaport “unviable.” This interactive map shows what exact places could be threatened (and it doesn’t look great for Faneuil Hall).

“You’re not going to escape it,” Curt Spalding, New England’s regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency, told Boston.com last year regarding sea level rise, after Boston’s waterfront was inundated by simple king tides.

According to a 2013 report by the World Bank, Boston ranked eighth out of 136 coastal cities for risk of flood damage.

Local officials are thus faced with a dilemma: how to manage the characteristic that historically made Boston a thriving commercial hub — its favorable port location — when that same asset now contributes to a potentially existential threat?

Head to the Globe to read the rest. I imagine many coastal cities are looking at possible protections from future flooding.

Donald Trump Jr. is being interviewed by investigators from the Senate Judiciary Committee this morning. MSNBC reports that he has changed his story again–now claiming he took a June 2016 meeting with Russians to get information that would help him assess Hillary Clinton’s “fitness for office.” From The New York Times:

Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, is set to meet with Senate Judiciary Committee investigators behind closed doors on Thursday to answer questions about his June 2016 meeting with a Kremlin-connected lawyer, committee officials said.

Homes are damaged after Hurricane Irma struck in Philipsburg, on the Dutch Caribbean island of St. Martin on Sept. 6, 2017. Netherlands Ministry of Defense via AFP – Getty Images

Committee aides said the interview, Mr. Trump’s first with congressional investigators, will be transcribed and could last for much of the day. It will largely focus on the meeting in Trump Tower, which appears to have been set up to deliver harmful information about Hillary Clinton to the Trump campaign, according to emails disclosed in June.

Democrats, led by Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, the committee’s top-ranking Democrat, said on Wednesday that Mr. Trump had also agreed to testify at a public hearing before the committee and that he would probably be subpoenaed if he did not follow through on that agreement. Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the panel’s chairman, declined to discuss the committee’s dealings with Mr. Trump. Lawyers for Mr. Trump could not be reached for comment.

The closed-door interview is the clearest indication yet that the Senate Judiciary Committee — after months of being eclipsed by the Senate and House intelligence committees — is emerging into a higher-profile role in investigating the president, his family and his associates in the coming months.

The committee is trying to get answers about the firing of James B. Comey as F.B.I. director this spring and has staked out a broad investigation that aims to look at everything from the Trump campaign’s interactions with Russia to the Obama Justice Department’s handling of the Clinton email case last year.

More Russia news broke last night in The Washington Post: Russian firm tied to pro-Kremlin propaganda advertised on Facebook during election.

Sea water rises to a water deck as hurricane Irma approaches Puerto Rico in Fajardo. Ricardo Arduengo AFP Getty Images

Representatives of Facebook told congressional investigators Wednesday that the social network has discovered that it sold ads during the U.S. presidential campaign to a shadowy Russian company seeking to target voters, according to several people familiar with the company’s findings.

Facebook officials reported that they traced the ad sales, totaling $100,000, to a Russian “troll farm” with a history of pushing pro-Kremlin propaganda, these people said.

A small portion of the ads, which began in the summer of 2015, directly named Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton, the people said, although they declined to say which candidate the ads favored.

Most of the ads, according to a blog post published late Wednesday by Facebook’s chief security officer, Alex Stamos, “appeared to focus on amplifying divisive social and political messages across the ideological spectrum — touching on topics from LGBT matters to race issues to immigration to gun rights.”

The acknowledgment by Facebook comes as congressional investigators and special counsel Robert S. Mueller III are probing Russian interference in the U.S. election, including allegations that the Kremlin may have coordinated with the Trump campaign.

Read more at the WaPo.

The other big story from last night is that Trump suddenly aligned himself with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer on raising the debt ceiling and threw Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell under the bus. Ryan Lizza at The New Yorker: How Democrats Rolled Trump on the Debt Ceiling.

A man drives through rain and strong winds during the passage of hurricane Irma, in Fajardo, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017.

For weeks, Chuck Schumer, the Senate Minority Leader, had been plotting a strategy to use the debt-ceiling vote to extract concessions from Donald Trump and his fellow-Republicans. Over the weekend, the White House and Senate Republicans indicated that they wanted a debt-ceiling increase attached to a bill to provide immediate aid for areas of Texas and Louisiana affected by Hurricane Harvey. The plan was perfect for the G.O.P. The House would pass a “clean” debt ceiling that most Republicans would probably support. In the Senate, Mitch McConnell, the Majority Leader, would add the Harvey money and pass the two bills together with the help of Democrats. The plan was to raise the debt ceiling for eighteen months, which would kick the next difficult vote past the 2018 midterm elections. In the House, such a bill likely would have lost some votes from both parties, but, given the urgency of the hurricane aid, it was a decent bet to pass. Best of all, for G.O.P. leaders, the bill would have taken away the Democrats’ debt-ceiling leverage from the coming debates on immigration, government spending, and health care.

But, when conservative Republicans came out vocally against McConnell and Ryan’s plan, Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, the top Democrat in the House, saw an opening. They called for the three-month debt-ceiling deal, which would kick the issue into mid-December, allowing them to maintain their leverage as Congress worked out agreements on other agenda items.

At his morning press conference, Ryan had been withering about this idea. “Let’s just think about this,” he said. “We’ve got all this devastation in Texas. We’ve got another unprecedented hurricane about to hit Florida. And they want to play politics with the debt ceiling? That will strand the aid that we need to bring to these victims of these storms that have occurred or are about to occur. And then they also want to threaten default on our debt? I think that’s ridiculous and disgraceful that they want to play politics with the debt ceiling at this moment.”

He added that the idea was “unworkable,” and, speaking for Trump, noted, “What the President doesn’t want to do is to give more leverage where it shouldn’t occur on the debt ceiling.”

But Ryan spoke too soon.

An hour later, in the Oval Office, Ryan, McConnell, Schumer, and Pelosi sat down with Trump and Steve Mnuchin, the Treasury Secretary, to negotiate. The Republican leaders—at first—stuck to their demand for an eighteen-month debt-ceiling increase. But the Democrats held fast as the Republicans dropped their request to twelve months and then to six months. Mnuchin argued that the financial markets needed a long-term deal. Trump cut him off and abruptly sided with Schumer and Pelosi on their three-month request.

Read the rest at The New Yorker.

Hurricanes Irma and Jose stacked over the Caribbean and Atlantic on September 6.

Lots of media people are outraged that Hillary Clinton dared to write a book detailing the challenges she faced during the 2016 election. Never mind that Clinton won the popular vote and her book has been number 1 on Amazon for months. Those of us who voted for her are still invisible to the media. Politico: Democrats dread Hillary’s book tour.

President Donald Trump may be the only person in politics truly excited about Hillary Clinton’s book tour.

Democratic operatives can’t stand the thought of her picking the scabs of 2016, again — the Bernie Sanders divide, the Jim Comey complaints, the casting blame on Barack Obama for not speaking out more on Russia. Alums of her Brooklyn headquarters who were miserable even when they thought she was winning tend to greet the topic with, “Oh, God,” “I can’t handle it,” and “the final torture.”

Political reporters gripe privately (and on Twitter) about yet another return to the campaign that will never end. Campaign operatives don’t want the distraction, just as they head into another election season. And members of Congress from both parties want the focus on an agenda that’s getting more complicated by the week.

But with a new NBC News poll showing her approval rating at 30 percent, the lowest recorded for her, Clinton kicks it off on Tuesday with a signing at the Union Square Barnes & Noble in New York. She’ll keep it going all the way through December, all across the country.

Do the Democrats really think they can win elections without Hillary’s hard core supporters? They seem to be going all in with Bernie, who lost to Hillary in the primaries by 4 million votes. Do these people know anything about math?

That’s all I have for you today. What stories are you following?