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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Tuesday Reads

 cat-readingGood Morning!!

Nepal has been rocked by 7.3 magnitude earthquake only a few weeks after the last one. From The LA Times:

Still reeling from last month’s devastating earthquake, Nepal was hammered again Tuesday by a magnitude 7.3 temblor that caused dozens more deaths, unleashed fresh landslides and brought down unsteady buildings.

By late afternoon, Nepal’s Home Affairs Ministry said at least 42 people were killed and more than 1,117 injured in the largest aftershock yet recorded from the 7.8 quake on April 25. Officials warned that the toll could rise.

The epicenter was about 47 miles northeast of the capital, Katmandu, near the Chinese border, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The April 25 quake, which killed more than 8,150 people, was centered in the mountains west of Katmandu.

The tremor struck just before 1 p.m. local time, sending residents of the capital scurrying into the open air for safety, and was followed by a series of smaller tremors that rattled nerves even further.

Within hours, new makeshift tents had begun popping up in parts of Katmandu as families that had survived the earlier quake and returned to their homes in recent days decided again they were safer sleeping outdoors.

The Hindu is publishing live updates from Reuters. They report multiple aftershocks. What a terrible tragedy! Obviously this is a developing story, and we’ll hear more throughout the day and in coming days.

53fa2027440233cdaa6e94d0f7338a41

I missed this important investigative article from the Baltimore Sun over the weekend: Freddie Gray among many suspects who do not get medical care from Baltimore police.

Records obtained by The Baltimore Sun show that city police often disregard or are oblivious to injuries and illnesses among people they apprehend — in fact, such cases occur by the thousands.

From June 2012 through April 2015, correctional officers at the Baltimore City Detention Center have refused to admit nearly 2,600 detainees who were in police custody, according to state records obtained through a Maryland Public Information Act request.

In those records, intake officers in Central Booking noted a wide variety of injuries, including fractured bones, facial trauma and hypertension. Of the detainees denied entry, 123 had visible head injuries, the third most common medical problem cited by jail officials, records show.

The jail records redacted the names of detainees, but a Sun investigation found similar problems among Baltimore residents and others who have made allegations of police brutality.e

Salahudeen Abdul-Aziz, who was awarded $170,000 by a jury in 2011, testified that he was arrested and transported to the Western District after being beaten by police and left with a broken nose, facial fracture and other injuries. Hours later, he went to Central Booking and then to Bon Secours Hospital, according to court records.

Abdul-Aziz said last week that jailers at Central Booking “wouldn’t let me in the door as soon as they saw my face. … I thought I was gonna die that day. Freddie Gray wasn’t so lucky.”

Read the rest at the Baltimore Sun link.

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The Washington Post, which initially published leaks favorable to the Baltimore PD, published an editorial in response the the Sun article: Too much black and blue in Baltimore.

TWO OR three times a day on average, suspects in the custody of the Baltimore police are turned away by the city jail because they are deemed too battered, beaten, bruised or otherwise injured or sick to be processed and admitted. The police are forced to head instead for a hospital emergency room to seek treatment for suspects suffering from head injuries, broken bones, hypertension and an array of other afflictions.

The frequency of such occurrences was detailed over the weekend by the Baltimore Sun, which obtained records from the city’s detention center under the Maryland Public Information Act. According to those records, the jail has turned away nearly 2,600 ailing detainees since June 2012 — about 2 percent of all bookings.

That staggering figure suggests the Baltimore police are heedless, at best, of the physical welfare of suspects in their custody. It also may help explain how Freddie Gray could have pleaded for medical care at least five times after he was arrested last month before the officers who detained him bothered to summon a paramedic — by which time it was too late….

The police understand — and after 2,600 reaffirmations in three years, they should be acutely aware — that they are obliged to seek medical attention for suspects who are sick or injured before the jail will admit them. Yet somehow that obligation doesn’t seem institutionally ingrained in cops on the beat….

The Justice Department’s civil rights investigation of the city police, announced last week by Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch, should take account of these injured detainees, including the causes and circumstances of their injuries and whether police are adequately trained and instructed in assessing them. And it should examine whether African American suspects are more frequently hurt and denied prompt medical care than other detainees.

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Journalists are still reacting to Seymour Hersh’s poorly sourced accusations that the Obama administration conspired with Pakistan to stage a fake raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound and then lied about it. Here are two I found this morning:

Lawfare: Hersh’s Account of the Bin Laden Raid is Journalistic Malpractice, by Yishai Schwartz

When a journalist writes a tell-all story about a classified operation, and he suspects the story will catalyze anti-American anger, provide fuel for terrorist groups, and cause severe friction with foreign governments, the act of publication is morally fraught. When the story is based on obscenely thin sourcing and careens into conspiracy theories, the decision to publish becomes indefensible.

Seymour Hersh has had a long and distinguished history as one of America’s finest investigative journalists. In recent years, he has gone a bit kooky. In 2011, for instance, he suggested that Stanley McChrystal, the former top commander in Afghanistan, and the leadership of the US Joint Special Operations Forces were “all members of, or at least supporters of, Knights of Malta.” His latest story, in which he claims that the entire story of Bin Laden’s killing is an elaborate cover-up for a joint Pakistani-American operation, may be his kookiest.

As many have already pointed out, Hersh’s version offers a combination of the inconsistent and the inexplicable. Why, for instance, would the Pakistanis help plan an elaborate raid, complete with a recall of Bin Laden’s Pakistani guards—rather than just hand Bin Laden over directly—if they always intended to claim he’d been killed in a drone strike hundreds of miles away? Worse, the key contentions rely on the exclusive word of one unnamed source who was a) retired, and b) on Hersh’s own account, only “knowledgeable about the initial intelligence about bin Laden’s presence in Abbottabad.”

To be sure, there are scraps of Hersh’s hodgepodge narrative that may turn out to be true. That a CIA “walk-in” may have contributed to the intel leading to Bin Laden’s whereabouts, for instance, matches a tidbit that NBC has confirmed recently. And Hersh’s insistence that someone highly placed in the Pakistani intelligence services knew of Bin Laden’s presence has been pretty widely believed for a while. But leaping from these plausible and relatively minor details to the rest of the fantastic tale Hersh spins simply boggles the mind.

It’s unsurprising then that The New Yorker passed on the story (as it, along with the The Washington Post, have reportedly done with the last few of Hersh’s flights of fantasy.)

The London Review of Books, on the other hand, lacked the same degree of restraint. This is hardly surprising given the editorial leadership’s apparent lack of interest in fact-checking. As LRB senior editor Christian Lorentzen wrote in a 2012 piece suitably titled Short Cuts,” “the facts are the burden of the reporter…nobody at the paper fact-checks full time; that’s an American thing… I miss New York sometimes, but I don’t miss its schizophrenic obsession with facts, or the puritan hysteria that attends the discovery that a memoir should have been called a novel.” The LRB, it seems, takes pride in its sloppiness. Perhaps they have an editorial opening for Stephen Glass?

As a former fact-checker, I find the LRB’s approach part puzzling and part offensive. As a citizen who would like to form judgements and opinions on the basis of actual information, I’m horrified.

Wow! Read more at Lawfare Blog.

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Politico: Sy Hersh, Lost in a Wilderness of Mirrors, by Jack Shafer.

Hersh leads the reader into a Wonderland of his own, thinly sourced retelling of the raid on Bin Laden’s complex in Abbottabad, Pakistan. According to Hersh, who cites American sources, “bin Laden had been a prisoner of the [Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence agency] at the Abbottabad compound since 2006” and his ISI captors eased the way for the American SEAL team to skip into Pakistan on their helicopters, kill the al Qaeda leader, and then skip out.

It’s a messy omelet of a piece that offers little of substance for readers or journalists who may want to verify its many claims. The Hersh piece can’t be refuted because there’s not enough solid material to refute. Like the government officials who spun the original flawed Abbottabad stories, he simply wants the reader to trust him.

Hersh’s piece quarrels with almost every aspect of the official story, asserting that much of it is cover designed to protect the Pakistanis who sold bin Laden out to the United States for military aid….
Hersh may very well be onto something—what did the Pakistanis know, when did they know it, and how much did they help? And that debate appears to be starting in earnest already, with NBC News quickly building off Hersh’s article. But Hersh’s potentially valid question on that subject is almost lost in the broad sweep of rolling back so many other stories and quibbling with effectively every known detail of one of the most thoroughly leaked secret operations in history.

By re-exploring the bin Laden operation, Hersh has thrust himself into the phenomenological territories that Cold War spymaster James Jesus Angleton called a “wilderness of mirrors.” In this clandestine world, truths are constructed, obliterated and bent to serve their masters. Adversaries who would deceive abound in this place, and without a reliable map, a compass, a sense of direction and maybe even a pedometer, even the most intrepid voyager (or journalist) can find himself lost. I’ll volunteer to join a search party for Hersh—somebody I’ve long admired—if only somebody can tell me precisely where he is.

Another harsh indictment. I expect “progressive” conspiracy theorists like Glenn Greenwald and Marcy Wheeler will attempt to keep this story alive, but it doesn’t seem to be getting much traction in either the mainstream media or the sane alternative media.

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More interesting stories, links only:

At Politico, former Deputy Director of the CIA Michael Morell recounts his Benghazi experiences: The Real Story of Benghazi. A CIA insider’s account of what happened on 9/11/12.

Pew Research Center, America’s Changing Religious Landscape. Christians Decline Sharply as Share of Population; Unaffiliated and Other Faiths Continue to Grow.

The Atlantic, American Religion: Complicated, Not Dead, by Emma Green.

Huffington Post, GOP Crowd Applauds Calling Immigrants Rats and Roaches, by Lauren Windsor.

Reuters, Verizon to buy AOL in push for digital content.

Fox News, Authorities say at least 7 victims found in Connecticut serial killer investigation.

NY Daily News: Connecticut serial killer already jailed for 2003 murder of still-missing woman: report.

What stories are you following today? Please share your thoughts and links in the comment thread, and have a terrific Tuesday!


Thursday Reads: Corporate Media Enables Victim Blaming in Death of Freddie Gray

View of East Baltimore from Amtrak train (credit Dave Troy http://davetroy.com/posts/from-the-train-baltimore-looks-like-hell

View of East Baltimore from Amtrak train (credit Dave Troy http://davetroy.com/posts/from-the-train-baltimore-looks-like-hell)

Good Morning!!

The victim-blaming flew thick and fast last night after The Washington Post published a self-serving leak from an anonymous Baltimore murderer policeman. According to the Post report, Freddie Gray severed his own spinal cord, crushed his own voice box and gave himself severe brain injuries in order to get back at the cops who beat him, dragged him to a police van as he screamed in agony and left him unbelted during a long “rough ride” to the police station.

From the WaPo story:

A prisoner sharing a police transport van with Freddie Gray told investigators that he could hear Gray “banging against the walls” of the vehicle and believed that he “was intentionally trying to injure himself,” according to a police document obtained by The Washington Post.

The prisoner, who is currently in jail, was separated from Gray by a metal partition and could not see him. His statement is contained in an application for a search warrant, which is sealed by the court. The Post was given the document under the condition that the prisoner not be named because the person who provided it feared for the inmate’s safety.

The document, written by a Baltimore police investigator, offers the first glimpse of what might have happened inside the van. It is not clear whether any additional evidence backs up the prisoner’s version, which is just one piece of a much larger probe.

Gray was found unconscious in the wagon when it arrived at a police station on April 12. The 25-year-old had suffered a spinal injury and died a week later, touching off waves of protests across Baltimore, capped by a riot Monday in which hundreds of angry residents torched buildings, looted stores and pelted police officers with rocks.

Abandoned row houses, Perlman Place, Baltimore

Abandoned row houses, Perlman Place, Baltimore

That solves that mystery then, right?

Um . . . . no. That tall tale is just likely to inflame more anger and protests.

Watch this CNN video of the Freddie Gray arrest posted at Slate if you can handle it. It shows police lifting and pushing Gray into the van because he can’t move at least one of his legs. Several times Gray screams in agony as police lift him into the van and leave him unbelted despite his injuries.

A second bystander-filmed video of Freddie Gray’s April 12 arrest in Baltimore—after which he was hospitalized and died—appears to show Gray in substantial pain before being put into a police vehicle.

Initial video of Gray’s arrest also appeared to depict him in pain as an onlooker shouted that Gray’s leg was broken….both videos—and witness reports that Gray was struck and “bent up” by the officers who arrested him—seem to suggest the possibility that he was injured before being put into the van.

Have I told you lately how much I despise the Washington Post? At least they did publish this piece by Michael E. Miller this morning:

Those stories that Freddie Gray had a pre-existing spinal injury are totally bogus.

One thing is certain…Freddie Gray did not have a pre-existing spinal injury.

Yet, that was the story circulating on a handful of conservative Web sites Tuesday. In an “exclusive” quoting anonymous sources, the Web site The Fourth Estate reported that “Freddie Gray’s life-ending injuries to his spine may have possibly been the result of spinal and neck surgery that he allegedly received a week before he was arrested, not from rough [sic] excessively rough treatment or abuse from police.” The site claimed his injury was from a car accident. For more surgery procedures, check out nanoknife cancer surgery on atlasoncology.com for more information.

“If this is true, then it is possible that Gray’s spinal injury resulting from his encounter with the Baltimore Police was not the result of rough-handling or abuse, but rather a freak accident that occurred when Gray should have been at home resting, not selling drugs,” the site reported right above images of documents pertaining to a civil lawsuit involving Gray by his vehicle accident lawyer.

“The police didn’t mistreat him at all; he mistreated himself,” the report concluded.

Abandoned row houses in Baltimore

Abandoned row houses in Baltimore

A$$holes.

But the images on the Fourth Estate actually relate to Gray’s lead paint lawsuit, the Baltimore Sun revealed. An attorney representing the Gray family confirmed that the case concerned lead paint, not a spinal cord injury a week before Freddie Gray’s arrest.

“We have no information or evidence at this point to indicate that there is a prior pre-existing spinal injury,” said Jason Downs, an attorney representing one of Gray’s relatives, told the Sun. “It’s a rumor.”

And yet that rumor might have caused real damage in a country already polarized on the subject of race and the police. The story quickly spread to several other Web sites, such as Free Republic and the Conservative Tree House, which called Gray’s supposedly pre-existing injury “a potential game changing discovery. A site called New York City Guns ran the headline “Dead Baltimore Drug Dealer Had Spinal Surgery DAYS Before He Collapsed in Police Van (Rioters Say ‘OOPS’).”

F**king a$$holes! I’m so sick of this garbage from so-called “conservatives.”

From this morning’s Baltimore Sun: The truth about Freddie Gray’s ‘pre-existing injury from car accident.’

Paperwork was filed in December allowing Gray and his sister, Fredericka to each collect an $18,000 payment from Peachtree Settlement Funding, records show. In exchange, Peachtree would have received a $108,439 annuity that was scheduled to be paid in $602 monthly installments between 2024 and 2039.

In her documents, Fredericka Gray checked “other” when asked to describe the type of accident. She also said that the date of the accident was “94/99” and that she was a minor when the case was settled.

In his documents, Freddie Gray checked “work injury, medical malpractice and auto accident” as the type of accident. When asked to explain, he also wrote something that is unreadable. He also wrote something unreadable when asked if he was a minor when the case was settled.

Baltimore, Md -- 12/2/11 -- The rear of a vacant house, marked with

Baltimore, Md — 12/2/11 — The rear of a vacant house, marked with “X” on the left, where a 13-year-old girl was raped in October. The house at 825 N. Caroline was owned by the city for years and last year the city transferred it through a swap with a developer. Kim Hairston [The Baltimore Sun ]

Experts such as Baizer Kolar P.C. as well as Gray’s attorney says there is no evidence he had any kind of preexisting injury and there was no car accident.

As children, Gray and his two sisters were found to have damaging lead levels in their blood, which led to educational, behavioral and medical problems, according to a lawsuit they filed in 2008 against the owner of a Sandtown-Winchester home the family rented for four years.

While the property owner countered in the suit that other factors could have contributed to the children’s deficits — including poverty and their mother’s drug use — the case was settled before going to trial in 2010. The terms of the settlement are not public.

Even the Free Republic has now withdrawn their story on the rumors, according to the Sun article. But that won’t stop Fox News and other right wing sources from spreading the lies.

Now two important articles about the real roots of the riots that broke out in Baltimore on Monday.

TPM Cafe:

The Role The Police Played In Sparking The Baltimore Violence, by Lawrence Brown.


Tuesday Reads: Baltimore Burning

Baltimore police confront violent protesters

Baltimore police confront violent protesters

Good Morning.

One of the advantages of being old is that you can remember quite a bit of history. I remember the riots that tore apart American cities in April, 1968, following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. The assassination was only the trigger that set off the anger that had been building for years in people who felt disrespected and desperate. One of those riots took place in Baltimore. Spiro Agnew was governor of Maryland when it happened. Soon he would be Richard Nixon’s Vice President. Nixon ran on a “law and order” platform, and as president he initiated the “war on drugs.”

Here’s a description of Baltimore in April, 1968, from someone who was there.

Armored troop carriers rolled down the streets over deep tread marks in the soft blacktop. Tanks had preceded them. There were troops already bivouaced in Druid Hill Park. It wasn’t a town in Czechoslovakia, or Poland, or Afghanistan. It was Crabtown, grave-site of Edgar Allen Poe, birthplace of the United States’ national anthem, and headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church. In the United States.

It was Bal’more, Mar’lan’. It was the time we call 1968. King had just been assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, and city officials had persuaded Governor Spiro Theodore Agnew to call in the National Guard.

Houses and businesses had burned before, and firemen had been shot before in the inner city, but troops occupying the city, this was new.

Sound familiar?

Baltimore in April, 1968

Baltimore in April, 1968

 

Baltimore in April 1968

Baltimore in April 1968

 

Forty-seven years later, Baltimore is burning again. This time the trigger was the death of Freddie Gray after a beating by police that was caught on video by a bystander. Why is anyone surprised by the violence? It was bound to happen again in one of many cities where militarized police forces target poor neighborhoods and police officers kill black citizens with impunity because they know they will go unpunished. We’ve seen black men die at the hands of police again and again in the past year–in Ferguson, Long Island, Cleveland, Dayton, Los Angeles, New York City, and many more cities.

This time, Baltimore Maryland’s governor is Larry Hogan. Forty-seven years later, his solution is the same as Agnew’s–call in the National Guard to shut down violent protests. Will it work? Maybe it will suppress the anger for a time, but it will remain simmering under the surface until Americans deal with the real problems behind it.

The good news in 2015 is that, thanks to cell phone cameras, Americans are finally seeing in real time the inevitable results of bad policing, racial profiling, and economic inequality. Will anything change this time?

This morning I’ve collected some of the best news reports and opinions I could find on the latest outbreak of violence over a police killing–this time in Baltimore.

Baltimore April 2015

Baltimore April 2015

From The Baltimore Sun: Riots erupt across West Baltimore, downtown.

Violence and looting overtook much of West Baltimore on Monday, injuring more than a dozen police officers and leaving buildings and vehicles in flames.

As night fell, looters took to Mondawmin Mall and a Save-A-Lot and Rite Aid in Bolton Hill, loading up cars with stolen goods. About 10 fire crews battled a three-alarm fire at a large senior center under construction at Chester and Gay streets, as police officers stood guard with long guns.

About 10 p.m., police confirmed shots were fired at an officer in the area of Virginia Avenue and Reisterstown Road in Northwest Baltimore. The officer was not hit and the suspect fled.

Fifteen police officers were injured in a clash with school-age children that began around 3 p.m., and two remain hospitalized, police Col. Darryl DeSousa said in a press conference Monday night. Earlier, police spokesman Capt. Eric Kowalczyk said one officer was unresponsive and others suffered broken bones.

Police arrested 27 people, DeSousa said.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake declared a curfew across the city starting Tuesday and for the next week, from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. for adults and 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. for children aged 14 and younger. She drew a distinction between peaceful protesters and “thugs” she said engaged in rioting Monday intend on “destroying our city.”

“It’s idiotic to think that by destroying your city, you’re going to make life better for anybody,” Rawlings-Blake said.

At Rawlings-Blake’s request, Gov. Larry Hogan signed an executive order declaring a state of emergency and activating the Maryland National Guard. The order does not affect citizens’ rights, but is required to activate the Guard and authorize federal assistance, Hogan spokeswoman Erin Montgomery said. It is not “martial law,” Maryland National Guard Adjutant General Linda Singh said.

Read much more at the Sun link.

Baltimore, April 2015

Baltimore, April 2015

The riots began shortly after the funeral of Freddie Gray, who was killed while in police custody  on April 12. From the Atlantic: The Mysterious Death of Freddie Gray.

Freddie Gray’s death on April 19 leaves many unanswered questions. But it is clear that when Gray was arrested in West Baltimore on the morning of April 12, he was struggling to walk. By the time he arrived at the police station a half hour later, he was unable to breathe or talk, suffering from wounds that would kill him.

Gray died Sunday from spinal injuries. Baltimore authorities say they’re investigating how the 25-year-old was hurt—a somewhat perverse notion, given that it was while he was in police custody, and hidden from public view, that he apparently suffered injury. How it happened remains unknown. It’s even difficult to understand why officers arrested Gray in the first place. But with protestors taking to the streets of Baltimore since Gray’s death on Sunday, the incident falls into a line of highly publicized, fatal encounters between black men and the police….
Black men dying at the hands of the police is of course nothing new, but the nation is now paying attention and getting outraged.Authorities can’t say if there was a particularly good reason why police arrested Gray. According to the city, an officer made eye contact with Gray, and he took off running, so they pursued him. Though he’d had scrapes with the law before, there’s no indication he was wanted at the time. And though he was found with a switchblade, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said, “We know that having a knife is not necessarily a crime.”
Police wouldn’t have found the knife if they hadn’t chased after Gray and searched him with no probable cause. They claim he ran when he saw police, but is that a crime? I don’t think so.
Friends and family gather for Freddie Gray's funeral

Friends and family gather for Freddie Gray’s funeral

Police brutality in Baltimore is nothing new. In September 2014, The Baltimore Sun published an investigative report on police violence against citizens: Undue Force. A brief excerpt:

Over the past four years, more than 100 people have won court judgments or settlements related to allegations of brutality and civil rights violations. Victims include a 15-year-old boy riding a dirt bike, a 26-year-old pregnant accountant who had witnessed a beating, a 50-year-old woman selling church raffle tickets, a 65-year-old church deacon rolling a cigarette and an 87-year-old grandmother aiding her wounded grandson.

Those cases detail a frightful human toll. Officers have battered dozens of residents who suffered broken bones — jaws, noses, arms, legs, ankles — head trauma, organ failure, and even death, coming during questionable arrests. Some residents were beaten while handcuffed; others were thrown to the pavement.

And in almost every case, prosecutors or judges dismissed the charges against the victims — if charges were filed at all. In an incident that drew headlines recently, charges against a South Baltimore man were dropped after a video showed an officer repeatedly punching him — a beating that led the police commissioner to say he was “shocked.”

Such beatings, in which the victims are most often African-Americans, carry a hefty cost. They can poison relationships between police and the community, limiting cooperation in the fight against crime, the mayor and police officials say. They also divert money in the city budget — the $5.7 million in taxpayer funds paid out since January 2011 would cover the price of a companion maids home service or renovations at more than 30 playgrounds. And that doesn’t count the $5.8 million spent by the city on legal fees to defend these claims brought against police.

Read the rest at the link.

Baltimore in April 2015

Baltimore in April 2015

Gray may have been injured during the beating on the street, but his injuries may have been exacerbated by being taken on a “rough ride” in a police wagon without a seat belt.

From the Baltimore Sun: Freddie Gray not the first to come out of Baltimore police van with serious injuries.

When a handcuffed Freddie Gray was placed in a Baltimore police van on April 12, he was talking and breathing. When the 25-year-old emerged, “he could not talk and he could not breathe,” according to one police official, and he died a week later of a spinal injury.

But Gray is not the first person to come out of a Baltimore police wagon with serious injuries.

Relatives of Dondi Johnson Sr., who was left a paraplegic after a 2005 police van ride, won a $7.4 million verdict against police officers. A year earlier, Jeffrey Alston was awarded $39 million by a jury after he became paralyzed from the neck down as the result of a van ride. Others have also received payouts after filing lawsuits.

For some, such injuries have been inflicted by what is known as a “rough ride” — an “unsanctioned technique” in which police vans are driven to cause “injury or pain” to unbuckled, handcuffed detainees, former city police officer Charles J. Key testified as an expert five years ago in a lawsuit over Johnson’s subsequent death.

As daily protests continue in the streets of Baltimore, authorities are trying to determine how Gray was injured, and their focus is on the 30-minute van ride that followed his arrest. “It’s clear what happened, happened inside the van,” Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said Monday at a news conference.

Here’s a first-person description of one of those “rough rides” from a victim:

Christine Abbott, a 27-year-old assistant librarian at the Johns Hopkins University, is suing city officers in federal court, alleging that she got such a ride in 2012. According to the suit, officers cuffed Abbott’s hands behind her back, threw her into a police van, left her unbuckled and “maniacally drove” her to the Northern District police station, “tossing [her] around the interior of the police van.”

“They were braking really short so that I would slam against the wall, and they were taking really wide, fast turns,” Abbott said in an interview that mirrored allegations in her lawsuit. “I couldn’t brace myself. I was terrified.”

The lawsuit states she suffered unspecified injuries from the arrest and the ride.

“You feel like a piece of cargo,” she added. “You don’t feel human.”

The van’s driver stated in a deposition that Abbott was not buckled into her seat belt, but the officers have denied driving recklessly.

Anyone believe the denials? I sure don’t.

More helpful stories on the Baltimore riots, links only:

USA Today Sports: Orioles COO John Angelos offers eye-opening perspective on Baltimore protests.

Joseph Cannon at Cannonfire: The Reasons Why, Fighting Back, and Insanity and Reality.

Think Progress: Maryland Police Union President Says He’s Never Heard Of ‘Rough Rides.’

The Root: Baltimore Police Union’s Boss Inflames Tension With ‘Lynch Mob’ Remark; ‘Rough Ride’ Alleged

Ta-Nehisi Coates at The Atlantic: Nonviolence as Compliance.

Politico: White House awakes to ‘national crisis‘ and Mayors to Washington: Do Something!

Vox: Protests in Baltimore escalate over death of Freddie Gray after arrest.

Newsday: Philadelphia mayor defends Baltimore leader’s riot response

What else is happening? As always, this is an open thread. Please post your thoughts and links on any topic in the comment thread.