On Friday, the Bab Al-Salama border crossing into Syria was almost empty. A single ambulance with flashing lights was waiting to enter. The only Syrians crossing back were those being returned to their families in body bags.
Lazy Caturday ReadsPosted: February 11, 2023 Filed under: cat art, caturday, Donald Trump, just because | Tags: Alaska, children with guns, classified documents, Evan Corcoran, grand jury, gun violence, Mike Pence, Turkey/Syria earthquake, unidentified high altitude object 28 Comments
I have a mixed bag of reads for you today: some stories about the terrible earthquake in Turkey and Syria, including a long read about the situation in Syria; a long read about the case of a six-year-old in Virginia who shot his teacher; a story about the still-unidentified flying object shot down over Alaska, and some new Trump investigation stories.
AP News: Survivors still being found as quake death toll tops 25,000.
ANTAKYA, Turkey (AP) — Rescue crews on Saturday pulled more survivors, including entire families, from toppled buildings despite diminishing hopes as the death toll of the enormous quake that struck a border region of Turkey and Syria five days ago surpassed 25,000.
Dramatic rescues were being broadcast on Turkish television, including the rescue of the Narli family in central Kahramanmaras 133 hours after the 7.8-magnitude temblor struck Monday. First, 12-year-old Nehir Naz Narli was saved, then both of her parents.
That followed the rescue earlier in the day of a family of five from a mound of debris in the hard-hit town of Nurdagi, in Gaziantep province, TV network HaberTurk reported. Rescuers cheered and chanted, “God is Great!” as the last family member, the father, was lifted to safety.
Turkish President Recep Tayypi Erdogan, on a tour of quake-stricken cities, raised the death toll in Turkey to 21,848, which pushed the total number of dead across the region, including government and rebel-held parts of Syria, to 25,401….
Still, the day brought one astonishing rescue after another, numbering more than a dozen.
Melisa Ulku, a woman in her 20s, was extricated from the rubble in Elbistan in the 132th hour since the quake, following the rescue of another person at the same site in the same hour. Ahead of her rescue, police announced that people shouldn’t cheer or clap in order to not interfere with other rescue efforts nearby. She was covered in a thermal blanket on a stretcher. Rescuers were hugging. Some shouted “God is great!”
Just an hour earlier, a 3-year-old girl and her father were pulled from debris in the town of Islahiye, also in Gaziantep province, and soon after a 7-year-old girl was rescued in the province of Hatay.
The rescues brought shimmers of joy amid overwhelming devastation days after Monday’s 7.8-magnitude quake and a powerful aftershock hours later caused thousands of buildings to collapse, killing more than 25,000, injuring another 80,000 and leaving millions homeless.
This is a long Washington Post article by Louisa Loveluck about the earthquake aftermath in Syria: In earthquake-battered Syria, a desperate wait for help that never came.
JINDERIS, Syria — It took four days and nights after the earthquake for the rubble to fall silent here. The strongest voices belonged to the women, residents said. Parted from their children, or fighting to save them, they screamed until their lungs gave out.
In this forgotten pocket of rebel-held northwest Syria, there were no international rescue workers to save them. No aid shipments brought painkillers to the survivors when stocks ran low. Just six miles away, across the border in Turkey, thousands of tons of relief poured in; support teams from as far away as Taiwan answered the Turkish government’s call for help. But Syria, divided against itself and isolated from much of the world, was left to pick up the pieces alone, as it has again and again over more than a decade of war and dislocation.
In the shattered town of Jinderis, at least 850 bodies had been recovered by Friday morning. Although hundreds are still missing, few believed there were any lives left to save. “We needed help here, we asked for help here,” said the town’s mayor, Mahmoud Hafar. “It never came.”
On a rare visit to this Syrian enclave, controlled by Turkish-backed armed groups, The Washington Post found communities gripped by shock and bewilderment, and very much alone. In Jinderis, fathers stood watch over the remains of their homes and told of waking up to find their wives and children dead. As hulking excavators clawed the rubble, searching for a 13-year old boy, a man asked reporters to help him contact the United Nations for help. “Maybe they don’t know what happened in Jinderis,” he said. “No one could see this and not come here.”
This part of Syria has endured crisis after crisis, home to millions of people who have braved war and displacement, hunger and disease. Even before the earthquake, 4.1 million here required humanitarian assistance.
Heartbreaking. Read the rest at the WaPo. There are also many photographs the story.
USA Today has a story about how the Turkey/Syria earthquake compares to others in recent history:100 years of earthquakes: Turkey, Syria disaster could be among this century’s worst.
More than 25,000 people have been killed and the death toll is expected to rise after two earthquakes struck Turkey and Syria on Feb. 6. The quakes have become one of this century’s worst natural disasters.
More than 75,000 people have been injured. International rescue efforts from the U.N. and other organizations continue.
The two earthquakes, near the Syrian border, had magnitudes of 7.8 and 7.5. They struck about nine hours apart and were the strongest quakes recorded in Turkey in 80 years.
USA TODAY examined earthquake patterns over the past 100 years and how the unfolding tragedy in Turkey and Syria compares. Here is what we found.
See maps and charts at the USA Today link.
The Virginia Six-Year Old Who Shot His Teacher
This is a very interesting investigative piece about the case of a six-year-old boy who shot his first-grade teacher. I can’t do it justice with excerpts, but I’ll give you a taste, and hope you’ll go read the rest.
Hannah Natanson and Justin Jouvenal at The Washington Post: How Richneck Elementary failed to stop a 6-year-old from shooting his teacher.
Teachers’ fears about the 6-year-old date backto his kindergarten year, when he tried to strangle his teacher, according to a letter Zwerner’s attorney sent to the school system Jan. 24 announcing her intent to sue. The letter was first reported by the Daily Press.
“The shooter had been removed from the school a year prior after he chokedhis teacher until she couldn’t breathe,” says the letter, obtained by The Post through a public records request. It was not immediately clear how a boy so young could have choked an adult. The Post was not able to learn other details of the incident and authorities have not released information about the boy.
Early this fall, as Richneck teachers sought to settle their new crop of students inside the low-slung red-brick building nestled amid trees, news of the 6-year-old’s troubled history circulated swiftly among the staff, according to text messages between teachers.
Less than a week into September, officials switched the 6-year-old to a half-day schedule due to misbehavior — but administrators were already lagging in efforts to accommodate the student, according to Toscano’s letter and to text messages sent between Zwerner and a friend of hers who teaches at the school.
It was not clear what specific incident triggered the schedule change.Toscano wrote in her letter that the 6-year-old “constantly cursed at the staff and teachers and then one day took off his belt on the playground and chased kids trying to whip them.”
What was going on in this child’s home life? It certainly seems as if abuse could be a clue to his behavior. And how was he able to get his hands on his mother’s gun, which she claimed was locked in her bedroom closet?
Text messages and a photo shared between teachers show that a student in Zwerner’s class reportedly hit a teacher so hard with a chair that her legs became dotted with green and purple bruises — and that, at another point, a kindergartner was accused of pushing a pregnant teacher to the ground and kicking her in the stomach so hard that she feared for her unborn child, two weeks shy of giving birth. It was not immediately clear how administrators responded to those episodes, although one educator wrote in a text this fall that the bruised teacher had “heard nothing from admin.”
On Nov. 9, the second-grade teacher wrote in a text message to a colleague that she was applying to work in another district because of “how bad the first graders are right now put together with the fact we don’t have doors.”
Yes, you read that right. The classrooms didn’t have doors because the administration said it would cost too much to put them in.
Diane Toscano, Zwerner’s lawyer, has said teachers relayed several warnings to administrators on the morning of the shooting, including at least three reports that the boy had a gun. The Post interviewed a kindergartner who said the boy threatened to punch her at lunch that day and that she informed a staffer — but that the staffer did little more than give the boy a verbal warning.
In the direct aftermath of the shooting, two second-grade classes were left briefly wandering the hallways in search of a safe place to hide because their classroom was not equipped with doors and they had not rehearsed safety drills, according to one second-grade teacher, one fifth-grade teacher and a parent of a second-grade student, as well as text messages obtained by The Post. A second-grade teacher told The Post she had asked to have doors installed but administrators refused, saying the doors would be too expensive.
As someone who attended elementary school in the 1950s, I can’t begin to comprehend what is happening these days. Not only do we have teenagers and adults committing school shootings; there are also 6-10 year-old kid bringing guns to school and even killing other kids. I hope you’ll read this story; it’s both frightening and fascinating.
High-Altitude Flying Object Over Alaska
The New York Times: U.S. Shoots Down High-Altitude Object Over Alaska.
The Pentagon said it shot down an unidentified object over frozen waters around Alaska on Friday at the order of President Biden, less than a week after a U.S. fighter jet brought down a Chinese spy balloon over the Atlantic in an episode that increased tensions between Washington and Beijing.
U.S. officials said they could not immediately confirm whether the object was a balloon, but it was traveling at an altitude that made it a potential threat to civilian aircraft.
At a news conference on Friday, John F. Kirby, a White House spokesman, said Mr. Biden ordered the unidentified object near Alaska downed “out of an abundance of caution.” [….]
Pentagon officials said they were able to immediately bring down the object over water, so they could easily avoid the dilemma posed by the spy balloon drifting over populated areas, which had prompted commanders to recommend to Mr. Biden to wait to shoot down the machine in order to avoid any chance of debris hitting people on the ground.
Three U.S. officials said that as of Friday evening, the government did not know who owned or sent the object seen above Alaska, which, like the Chinese balloon last week, was shot down by an F-22 fighter jet using a Sidewinder air-to-air missile.
Several officials said they believed the object shot down Friday was a balloon, but a Defense Department official said it broke into pieces when it hit the frozen sea, which added to the mystery of whether it was indeed a balloon, a drone or something else.
Mr. Kirby said that the object was “much, much smaller than the spy balloon that we took down last Saturday” and that “the way it was described to me was roughly the size of a small car, as opposed to the payload that was like two or three buses.”
So we still don’t know what this object was. Maybe we’ll find out today.
CNN: Trump team turns over additional classified records and laptop to federal prosecutors.
Former President Donald Trump’s legal team turned over more materials with classified markings and a laptop belonging to an aide to federal prosecutors in recent months, multiple sources familiar with the investigation told CNN.
The Trump attorneys also handed over an empty folder marked “Classified Evening Briefing,” sources said.
The previously undisclosed handovers – from December and January – suggest the protracted effort by the Justice Department to repossess records from Trump’s presidency may not be done.
The Trump attorneys discovered pages with classified markingsin December, while searching through boxes at the former president’s Mar-a-Lago residence. The lawyers subsequently handed the materials over to the Justice Department.
A Trump aide had previously copied those same pages onto a thumb drive and laptop, not realizing they were classified, sources said. The laptop, which belonged to an aide, who works for Save America PAC, and the thumb drive were also given to investigators in January.
Excuse me, how do we know that Trump didn’t order the aide to copy the documents? And how do we know there aren’t other electronic copies out there? I just can’t believe that Trump never shared any of those stolen documents.
NPR: FBI finds an additional classified document during ‘consensual’ search of Pence’s home.
The FBI confirmed it found an additional classified document during a search Friday at the Indiana home of former Vice President Mike Pence.
The search for classified documents as well as materials that aren’t classified but are subject to the Presidential Records Act lasted about five hours. Agents removed one document with classified markings plus six additional pages without classification markings.
The consensual search follows a discovery, relayed by Pence’s representatives to the National Archives and Records Administration last month, that documents bearing classified markings had been, they said, “inadvertently” boxed up and found in the former vice president’s home in Indiana.
This is big news from The New York Times: Trump Lawyer in Mar-a-Lago Search Appeared Before Grand Jury.
A lawyer for former President Donald J. Trump appeared before a federal grand jury investigating his handling of sensitive government documents that he took to his Mar-a-Lago club and residence after he left office, two people briefed on the matter said on Friday.
The lawyer, M. Evan Corcoran, a member of Mr. Trump’s legal team who handled his responses to the government over its repeated requests for the return of such records, could offer firsthand knowledge of the search the F.B.I. undertook in August and any insights into whether Mr. Trump knew that documents remained at the club.
Mr. Corcoran did not respond to a request for comment. And it was not immediately clear when and under what circumstances he appeared. His appearance was reported earlier by Bloomberg News.
Mr. Corcoran has raised eyebrows within the Justice Department for his statements to federal officials assuring them that Mr. Trump had returned all classified materials in his possession.
As part of Mr. Trump’s legal team, Mr. Corcoran was in discussions with the Justice Department in January 2022, after the National Archives and Records Administration recovered 15 boxes of presidential material from Mar-a-Lago containing nearly 200 individual classified documents.
In May 2022, Mr. Corcoran was in touch with the department after a grand jury subpoena was issued for any remaining classified material that Mr. Trump retained. He was also on hand the next month when the top Justice Department counterintelligence official visited Mar-a-Lago and collected more than 30 additional classified documents.
At the time, another lawyer working for Mr. Trump, Christina Bobb, signed a statement attesting that a “diligent search” for all remaining classified documents had been conducted and that what was turned over was all that remained. The attestation was drafted by Mr. Corcoran, but Ms. Bobb added language to it to make it less ironclad before signing it, according to people familiar with what took place.
Former Watergate prosecutor Nick Akerman explained to MSNBC’s Joy Reid the significance of former Vice President Mike Pence’s cooperation with the Justice Department, as it subpoenas him for information in the January 6 investigation.
Above all, Akerman said, we are approaching the unprecedented possibility that a former vice president may have to testify at the criminal trial of his former president.
“If you had [Pence], you know, as you said, for hours and hours, and hours, what would you want to ask him?” asked Reid. “Myself personally, I would also want to know what the Secret Service agents were saying, did you trust them? Because this could be about Donald Trump, but it could also be about some of them. What would you want to know?”
“Yeah, I think we want to know exactly what his suspicion was based on,” said Akerman. “I mean, why did he think they were trying to whisk him out of the Capitol so quickly? Was it one of the people that was close to Donald Trump that was in charge of doing that? Did somebody say something to him? I mean, I’m sure he knew that part of this whole plot was to stop that vote, stop the Congress from considering the electoral count. And that one way to do it was to get him off premises, get him out of the Capitol. So I think, you know, he probably did have other conversations with people.”
“I mean, don’t forget, once Mike Pence told him there’s no way no how I’m gonna do this, Donald Trump knew that the only way he was going to stop this whole count was through the violence, through the disruption in the chaos that ensued at the Capitol and that one of the ways to do it of course was to get Mike Pence out of the Capitol as a result of all this violence and used the Secret Service as a foil and an excuse to do that,” continued Akerman.
I hope you find something here that interests you. What other stories have you been following?
Lazy Saturday Reads: America the ViolentPosted: July 9, 2016 Filed under: just because | Tags: Alton Sterling, Dallas Massacre, gun violence, Hillary Clinton, law enforcement, love and kindness, mass shootings, Philando Castile, Shorky Eldaly II 46 Comments
We’ve arrived at the end of another terrible week in America. When will it end? Never, until we do something about the availability of guns–especially military grade weapons that are designed for the express purpose of killing human beings. People should not own military grade weapons, if you like guns then get yourself airsoft gun, which is safer.
I’m going to begin with an excerpt from an essay at NBC News by Shorky Eldaly II: An America I See in the Distance. Eldaly was likely writing before the massacre in Dallas took place; his piece is mostly about police killings of Black people. Please do read the whole thing at the link.
Hours after the first report of another American, another father, another son, killed without the provocation all I could do was repeat this mantra to myself as I searched my home, for something to remind me of why we must go on; why we’re not allowed to give up on an America that seems, in some ways, now more distant than ever.
Today our nation struggles to find its breath after the loss of Alton Sterling. As we are still grieving the loss of life in Orlando I try, alongside the rest of the world, to make sense of the loss of Philando Castile.
In the barrage of questions being posed by experts on television screens and news feed updates, I whisper back, “Where are our solutions?” And I apologize (to who or what I am unsure) for not having done enough, in the wake of these executions.
Amidst these acts of terrorism, I am left at a loss for not just words, but of an ability to fully comprehend the true amount of loss we’ve suffered. I’m searching for an America I can still believe in.
Eldaly asks the questions all decent Americans are asking–where is the America we once believed in? When can we be proud of our country again? Or did that country never truly exist except in our imaginations?
This week we’ve seen the convergence of our national plague of mass shootings and the disastrous effects of racism on the way laws are enforced. The Dallas shooter Mikah Johnson claimed he was angry about Black people being murdered by police. In Tennesee, Lakeem Keon Scott may also have been motivated by anger at recent police shootings. He killed Jennifer Rooney, a letter carrier and wounded three others, including a police officer. At the same time, many police officers say say they feel under siege from people who are angry at police-involved shootings around the country.
As Eldaly asks, “Where are our solutions?” Not in Congress, as long as Republicans are utterly beholden to the NRA. A bit more from his essay:
I know we must encompass something more than sense of power to create change. We must restore a sense of compassion and freedom that illuminates the rhetoric of America’s founders. Though these notions of compassion and freedom were not applicable to the nation’s current populous, America can be, and has already in many ways been re-founded and re-defined in the 21st century.
It is by the hands of those, like my parents, who sought and chose to be American that America has been redefined. Their sacrifice establishes the vision that, for most of its life, has been America’s fairy tale. It is in their lives, and the lives of their children, that I see the evidence that we can grow, that we will be great.
It is in that same vein that Black Lives mattering is not a negation of the rights of other individuals, but a needed imperative to correct the record for a nation whose Congress once legislated the counting of people as property and now sanctions their death at the hands of those sworn to protect and serve.
Because, in truth, the men and women who live narratives of hate — regardless of race — are no more American, than those who look to divide us and foster hate or fear within us. These individuals are terrorists and nothing short of that.
For each of those who work against equity, of life, of liberty, to those who kill the innocent — for each one of us you kill — you only strengthen our resolve.
You only strengthen the discipline with which we hold ourselves accountable, increasing the heights we dare to dream.
We are the sons and daughters of men and women who against insurmountable odds survived, who in every moment inhabit the American ideals in ways that our forefathers could not have imagined.
We can not allow violence or fear, to shrink us back or lead us to hate or division, because in ways that only love can sustain — we are dreamers, we are doers, and we are, in our resilience and resolve, bravery, selflessness, and love.
During her campaign for president, Hillary Clinton has said repeatedly that we need more love and kindness in this country. This morning I got an email from the Clinton campaign–you probably got it too. I’m going to post the whole thing here:
Like so many people across America, I have been following the news of the past few days with horror and grief.
On Tuesday, Alton Sterling, father of five, was killed in Baton Rouge — approached by the police for selling CDs outside a convenience store. On Wednesday, Philando Castile, 32 years old, was killed outside Minneapolis — pulled over by the police for a broken tail light.
And last night in Dallas, during a peaceful protest related to those killings, a sniper targeted police officers — five have died: Brent Thompson, Patrick Zamarripa, Michael Krol, Michael Smith, and Lorne Ahrens. Their names, too, will be written on our hearts.
What can one say about events like these? It’s hard to know where to start. For now, let’s focus on what we already know, deep in our hearts: There is something wrong in our country.
There is too much violence, too much hate, too much senseless killing, too many people dead who shouldn’t be. No one has all the answers. We have to find them together. Indeed, that is the only way we can find them.
Let’s begin with something simple but vital: listening to each other.
White Americans need to do a better job of listening when African Americans talk about seen and unseen barriers faced daily. We need to try, as best we can, to walk in one another’s shoes. To imagine what it would be like if people followed us around stores, or locked their car doors when we walked past, or if every time our children went to play in the park, or just to the store to buy iced tea and Skittles, we said a prayer: “Please God, don’t let anything happen to my baby.”
Let’s also put ourselves in the shoes of police officers, kissing their kids and spouses goodbye every day and heading off to do a dangerous job we need them to do. Remember what those officers in Dallas were doing when they died: They were protecting a peaceful march. When gunfire broke out and everyone ran to safety, the police officers ran the other way — into the gunfire. That’s the kind of courage our police and first responders show all across America.
We need to ask ourselves every single day: What can I do to stop violence and promote justice? How can I show that your life matters — that we have a stake in another’s safety and well-being?
Elie Wiesel once said that “the opposite of love is not hate — it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death — it’s indifference.”
None of us can afford to be indifferent toward each other — not now, not ever. We have a lot of work to do, and we don’t have a moment to lose. People are crying out for criminal justice reform. People are also crying out for relief from gun violence. The families of the lost are trying to tell us. We need to listen. We need to act.
I know that, just by saying all these things together, I may upset some people.
I’m talking about criminal justice reform the day after a horrific attack on police officers. I’m talking about courageous, honorable police officers just a few days after officer-involved killings in Louisiana and Minnesota. I’m bringing up guns in a country where merely talking about comprehensive background checks, limits on assault weapons and the size of ammunition clips gets you demonized.
But all these things can be true at once.
We do need police and criminal justice reforms, to save lives and make sure all Americans are treated as equal in rights and dignity.
We do need to support police departments and stand up for the men and women who put their lives on the line every day to protect us.
We do need to reduce gun violence.
We may disagree about how, but surely we can all agree with those basic premises. Surely this week showed us how true they are.
I’ve been thinking today about a passage from Scripture that means a great deal to me — maybe you know it, too:
“Let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season, we shall reap, if we do not lose heart.”
There is good work for us to do, to find a path ahead for all God’s children. There are lost lives to redeem and bright futures to claim. We must not lose heart.
May the memory of those we’ve lost light our way toward the future our children deserve.
Now here are some links for you to explore:
New York Times: Suspect in Dallas Attack had Interest in Black Power Groups.
ABC News: Gun Used in Dallas Massacre Similar to Other Mass Shootings.
Los Angeles Times: Dallas police used a robot to kill a gunman, a new tactic that raises ethical questions.
Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Piedmont Park hanging referred to FBI.
New York Daily News: Trump barred from speaking to NYPD officers; Bratton says Dallas tragedy not a photo op.
The New Republic: The Return of Clinton Derangement Syndrome.
The Washington Post: The math of mass shootings.
The Chicago Tribune: Ex-Illinois Rep. Walsh says Twitter took down Dallas tweet ‘Watch out Obama.’
Buzzfeed: Trump Bought $120,000 Luxury Trip With Trump Foundation Money At 2008 Charity Auction.
The Atlantic: The Republican Party’s White Strategy.
Bloomberg: Sanders’ Influence Fades Ahead of Clinton Endorsement.
What else is happening? What stories are you following today?
Memorial Day ReadsPosted: May 30, 2016 Filed under: 2016 elections, Afternoon Reads, worker rights | Tags: gun violence, Justice for Harambe, Memorial Day 12 Comments
Today is Memorial Day in the United States. It’s the day we set aside to honor those who died in service to our country. The day was originally known as Decoration Day. It was recognized in 1868 when a organization of Union veterans established the day as a day to decorate the graves of Union Soldiers. It is believed that former slaves were the first to actually have a Memorial Day type event in 1865 which inspired Northerners to do similar things.
This occurred in Charleston, SC to honor 257 dead Union Soldiers who had been buried in a mass grave in a Confederate prison camp. They dug up the bodies and worked for 2 weeks to give them a proper burial as gratitude for fighting for their freedom. Together with teachers and missionaries, Black residents of Charleston organized a May Day ceremony that year which was covered by the New York Tribune and other national papers.
The freedmen cleaned up and landscaped the burial ground, building an enclosure and an arch labeled, “Martyrs of the Race Course.” Nearly ten thousand people, mostly freedmen, gathered on May 1 to commemorate the war dead. Involved were about 3,000 Black school children newly enrolled in Freedmen’s schools, mutual aid societies, Union troops, Black ministers, and White northern missionaries. Most brought flowers to be placed on the burial field. Years later, the celebration would come to be called the “First Decoration Day” in the North.
I still find it intriguing that states like Mississippi don’t recognize the day as a holiday–other than Federal Agencies that follow Federal Holiday Schedules–since it’s considered a “Yankee” Holiday. There was a competing Confederate holiday but the two were eventually merged for all but neoconfederates like those in Mississippi. Our family used to use the day to picnic at family cemetery plots to do general all purpose gardening and clean up. I can remember mother’s personal fight to keep the peonies off the grave stones in Kansas City and various small towns in Kansas and Missouri.
A lot of people confuse Veteran’s Day with Memorial Day which in a way is a bit sad. Memorial Day is specifically a remembrance to those who died while in the military in either battle or in support of those in battle. They used to sell little red poppies to honor the World War 1 dead. We always got one in remembrance of my Dad’s Uncle Jack for whom he was named. Uncle Jack made it home but died within a few years from the effects of mustard gas. I’m not sure that we do much of anything like that any more but given we still lose many active service members to war and military excursions, we should remember their sacrifice uniquely. Veteran’s Day for those who lived through their service. Armed Forces Day for those serving now. Memorial Day for those who died while in service to our country.
Of course, what week could go by without another crazed mass shooting? Here’s the local headline from Houston: “TWO DEAD, 6 INJURED AFTER TERRIFYING MASS SHOOTING IN WEST HOUSTON.”
A man came into a west Houston auto detail shop and began shooting, killing a man known to be a customer and putting a neighborhood on lockdown Sunday before being killed by a SWAT officer, police said.
You can read the details but I’m beginning to think that we’ve got civilians in our country that are dying in battlefields too. Unfortunately, the battlefields are shopping centers, movie theatres, and all kinds of places in American Cities.
I hesitate to bring this story up because I find it super upsetting but I know we have folks here that love our furry relations as much as I do. A child fell into a zoo enclosure last week which resulted in the shooting of a rare lowland gorilla. There are a number of videos out that I don’t have the heart to watch. Grief is turning to outrage over the gorilla’s death. Here’s a story on that.
The killing of an endangered gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo to rescue a boy who fell into a dangerous enclosure unleashed an outpouring of grief on over the holiday weekend.
Within hours, that grief had turned to fury as critics questioned the zoo’s decision to kill the endangered 17-year-old gorilla, named Harambe, and called for the boy’s parents to be punished for not adequately supervising their child.
A Facebook page called “Justice for Harambe” received more than 41,000 “likes” within hours of its creation. The page’s description says it was created to “raise awareness of Harambe’s murder” and includes YouTube tributes and memes celebrating the western lowland gorilla and admonishing zoo officials.
“Shooting an endangered animal is worse than murder,” a commenter from Denmark named Per Serensen wrote on the page. “Soooo angry.”
Lt. Steve Saunders, a spokesman for the Cincinnati Police Department, told the Cincinnati Enquirer that they have no plans to charge the child’s parents.
That news didn’t stop tens of thousands from signing multiple online petitions calling for Cincinnati Child Protective Services to investigate the boy’s parents — who have not been identified — for negligence.
“I’m signing because a beautiful critically endangered animal was killed as a direct result of her failure to supervise her child,” one signee wrote. “I don’t blame the zoo staff for the decision they made, I’m sure they’re heartbroken.”
“If she’d watched her child he wouldn’t have been in the gorilla enclosure in the first place,” the commenter added.
A petition on Change.org asks for legislation to be passed that creates “legal consequences when an endangered animal is harmed or killed due to the negligence of visitors.” The petition has amassed more than 40,000 signatures.
Here’s another take on the situation including the videos. Witnesses say the boy wanted to go into the water inside the enclosure. They also indicated that entering the enclosure was not an easy task.
The incident drew widespread attention as dramatic video spread across the Internet showing Harambe dragging the boy like a rag doll through the water across the habitat.The boy climbed through a barrier and fell some 15 feet to a shallow moat in Harambe’s enclosure, Maynard said.Kimberley Ann Perkins O’Connor, who captured some of the incident on her phone, told CNN she overheard the boy joking to his mother about going into the water.Suddenly, a splash drew the crowd’s attention to the boy in the water. The crowd started screaming, drawing Harambe’s attention to the boy, O’Connor said.At first, it looked like Harambe was trying to help the boy, O’Connor said. He stood him up and pulled up his pants.As the crowd’s clamors grew, Harambe tossed the boy into a corner of the moat, O’Connor said, which is when she started filming. Harambe went over to the corner and shielded the boy with his body as the boy’s mother yelled “Mommy’s right here.”The crowd’s cries appeared to agitate Harambe anew, O’Connor said, and the video shows him grabbing the boy by the foot. He dragged him through the water and out of the moat atop the habitat, O’Connor said.By that point, “It was not a good scene,” she said. When the boy tried to back away the gorilla “aggressively” pulled him back into his body “and really wasn’t going to let him get away,” she said.O’Connor left before the shooting. When asked if the the barrier could be easily penetrated by a child, she said it would take some effort.
The Supreme Court is being asked to take up a bankruptcy dispute involving the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City and to decide whether to restore the health and pension benefits of more than 1,000 casino workers.
At issue is a conflict between labor laws that call for preserving collective bargaining agreements and bankruptcy laws that allow a judge to reorganize a business to keep it in operation.
“This is about how a bankruptcy was used to transfer value from working people to the super-rich,” said Richard G. McCracken, general counsel for Unite Here, the hotel and casino workers’ union that appealed to the high court.
Billionaire Carl Icahn stepped in to buy the casino – founded by Donald Trump – after it filed for bankruptcy in 2014.
As the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals said in January, Trump’s “plan of reorganization was contingent on the rejection of the collective bargaining agreement,” also known as the CBA, with the union. Icahn promised a “capital infusion of $100 million” to keep the casino in operation, but “only if the CBA and tax relief contingencies are achieved.”
With that understanding, the Philadelphia-based appeals court upheld a bankruptcy judge’s order that canceled the health insurance and pension contributions called for in the union’s contract. “It is preferable to preserve jobs through a rejection of a CBA, as opposed to losing the positions permanently,” wrote Judge Jane Roth.
The union is urging the Supreme Court to review and reverse that ruling, arguing the labor laws call for preserving collective bargaining agreements, even if they expire during a bankruptcy. The National Labor Relations Board agreed and filed a brief in the support of the casino workers union when the case was before the 3rd Circuit.
So much for Trump and the working person.
Anyway, I’m going to make this short today because most of the stories I’m reading aren’t exactly pleasant. Seems we have a streak of violence going around the country and the headlines reflect that. Chicago is having an extremely violent few days. I was thinking that the violence here might be isolated but it doesn’t appear to be.
June 2nd is “Wear Orange Day” which is a day to commit to ending gun violence. The day started in 2013 when some Chicago kids asked every one to wear orange in remembrance of a friend killed by gun fire. Maybe this holiday will become the Memorial Day for those civilians killed in the battle in our streets.
So, what’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Monday ReadsPosted: December 7, 2015 Filed under: Afternoon Reads, American Gun Fetish, Barack Obama, Congress, corporate greed | Tags: Daesh, Gun Regulations, Gun Studies, gun violence, ISIL 24 Comments
Well, it’s another Monday of National Crass Consumerism Season and woe to us that have to do any normal errands in stores. For that matter, woe to us that get mail, email, commercial TV stations, radio, and internet because it’s hard to avoid the onslaught of the season of greed and guilt-laden obligation. It’s time to say WHOA! to all of that. You can’t go any where these days and escape the pitch. Whatever happened to just simply getting together and enjoying people when you have time off work or whatever. Does it all have to involve ugly sweaters, really bad music, and people in terrible mood all in lines I’d like to just plain avoid? Why is it the worst things about this country just keep getting worse?
Oh, wait, I can answer that. Some rich old white guy is making a buttload of money out of making every one else basically stressed and miserable. Plus a couple other old white dudes think their liberty is at risk if we start trying to solve the problems they create with policy that works rather than enriches the other old white dudes.
So, speaking of things that keep getting worse, the President addressed the nation last night about our rampant gun violence. Oh, wait, he only addressed our paranoid nation on the least likely form of gun violence. But, that’s all one party in this country cares about.
We can’t seem to get a break from putting gun violence into the bin denoting the religion of the shooter. It’s either terrorism from Mooslim TerroristZ or some crazy dude or black people that deserve to be shot because THUGZ!!. Those are the bins. That’s a pretty sad statement on the affairs of state. You can find the transcript at the White House Website.
To begin with, Congress should act to make sure no one on a no-fly list is able to buy a gun. What could possibly be the argument for allowing a terrorist suspect to buy a semi-automatic weapon? This is a matter of national security.
We also need to make it harder for people to buy powerful assault weapons like the ones that were used in San Bernardino. I know there are some who reject any gun safety measures. But the fact is that our intelligence and law enforcement agencies — no matter how effective they are — cannot identify every would-be mass shooter, whether that individual is motivated by ISIL or some other hateful ideology. What we can do — and must do — is make it harder for them to kill.
Next, we should put in place stronger screening for those who come to America without a visa so that we can take a hard look at whether they’ve traveled to warzones. And we’re working with members of both parties in Congress to do exactly that.
Finally, if Congress believes, as I do, that we are at war with ISIL, it should go ahead and vote to authorize the continued use of military force against these terrorists. For over a year, I have ordered our military to take thousands of airstrikes against ISIL targets. I think it’s time for Congress to vote to demonstrate that the American people are united, and committed, to this fight.
I still want to have a discussion on why so many Americans feel the need to shoot up the country. I really could care less about their religion. One thing I read this weekend that I really would recommend that you read is the story of one of the survivors of the Oregon Community College shooter. Like I said, we don’t need to really look at the religion of the shooter to know the damage it inflicts on our society. We also know that it’s really difficult to predict and stop rampage shooters after they have access to weapons. We need to spend less time obsessing on the profiles of the shooters because we know there are so many of them now that just knowing who they are is not solving any of these problems. ISIS-inspired, Police shooting, person with known emotional illnesses or right wing Racist … the out come is the same and their access to weapons remains the same. There are other systemic things going on in this country we can and must address regardless of the profile of the shooter.
It had been 20 days since the last time Bonnie left Cheyeanne by herself — 20 days since she was shot along with 15 others in a classroom at Umpqua Community College. Nine people were killed that day, adding to the hundreds of Americans who have died in mass shootings in recent years. And seven people were wounded but didn’t die, joining the ever-expanding ranks of mass-shooting survivors. There are thousands of them. Fifty-eight gunshot survivors at the movie theater in Aurora, Colo. Three at the Washington Navy Yard. One at a church in Charleston, S.C. Nine in Colorado Springs. Twenty-one in San Bernardino, Calif. And seven more in Roseburg, Ore., where Cheyeanne had been sent home from the hospital to a flea-infested rental with reinforced locks and curtains darkening the living room.
A doctor had given her a booklet called “Creating a Safe Space to Recover,” and Bonnie had taken a break from waitressing to become a full-time caregiver. She had turned a $5 garage-sale recliner into Cheyeanne’s hospital bed and posted a sign on their front door: “No loud noises! Please do NOT knock.” She had set her alarm for every four hours to bring Cheyeanne her medicines and anything else that might make her feel safe again. Here came more Percocet to numb the pain and anti-anxieties to ease her panic attacks. Here came her purple blanket, her new puppy and her condolence letter from President Obama. Here came the old Little League baseball bats she wanted nearby for protection and the rifle she had used to kill her first deer.
From the parents of the victims of the Sandy Hook shooter to former Congress woman Gabby Giffords, we have survivors of our own American War Zone. We have mothers whose sons were gunned down without much thought by the police. We have people who witnessed shootings on Bourbon street on Thanksgiving weekend. We know many people survived the San Bernadino shooters. All of them stand in testament to the gun culture in the US. The rest of the world simply does not get how we tolerate such a large body count.
But, we live in a divided country still. The civil war evidently solved very little but slavery in the long run. Just look at the speech and the reaction to the shootings last week to see how very differently our policy treats the same essential problem. The victims of the Planned Parenthood shooting have been all but forgotten. We’re not getting a prime time address to the country on the uptick in attacks on Women’s Health Clinics.
We have a lot of disgruntled, unhappy people that get easy access to guns then take the neighbors, family and co-workers with them when they finally decide to end themselves. The same process happens with the divorced father who goes after his wife and kids as it does with people driven by the inner demons of religious zealotry, bigotry, or mental illness. But, let’s make this all about reasons to bomb another country in the Middle East. Republicans ignore gun violence unless it’s been committed by some one who happens to be Muslim. Then, we get a witch hunt akin to the 1950s search for communists. This really isn’t our major issue with rampage shooters at all let alone overall gun violence in the US.
While Obama doesn’t say it outright, he appears to be subtly referencing Robert Pape’s influential argument that the great driver of suicide terrorism is not jihadist ideology but occupation. Because Obama, unlike Bush and Rubio, believes the Islamic State is ideologically weak, he thinks America’s current strategy will eventually defeat it unless America commits a large occupying force, which would give the jihadists a massive shot in the arm.
The other unforced error America must avoid, according to Obama, is “letting this fight be defined as a war between America and Islam. That, too, is what groups like ISIL want.” Because the GOP candidates see violent jihadism as a powerful, seductive ideology, they think that many American Muslims are at risk of becoming terrorists, and thus that the United States must monitor them more aggressively. Because Obama sees violent jihadism as ideologically weak and unattractive, he thinks that few American Muslims will embrace it unless the United States makes them feel like enemies in their own country—which is exactly what Donald Trump risks doing.
Obama is a kind of Fukuyamian. Like Francis Fukuyama, the author of the famed 1989 essay “The End of History,” he believes that powerful, structural forces will lead liberal democracies to triumph over their foes—so long as these democracies don’t do stupid things like persecuting Muslims at home or invading Muslim lands abroad. His Republican opponents, by contrast, believe that powerful and sinister enemies are overwhelming America, either overseas (the Rubio version) or domestically (the Trump version).
Read how our police respond to young black men and tell me that this isn’t a huge problem. One officer just pulled a gun a shot 12 year old Tamir Rice for having his hands in his pocket based on some hysterical white person’s 911 call. A huge portion of our citizenry lives in daily fear of the people who are supposed to serve and protect. Why do we only obsess on one cause that’s not even statistically up there with the causes of death by shootings. Toddlers with easy access to guns statistically do more killing than wild eyed Wahhabi sympathizers.
A 12-year-old boy killed by Cleveland police last year had his hands in his pockets when he was shot and wasn’t reaching for the pellet gun he was carrying, according to an expert hired by the boy’s family to review a frame-by-frame video of the deadly encounter.
Tamir Rice did not have enough time to remove his hands from his pockets before being shot and his hands were not visible to the officer, according to the report released late Friday night by attorneys for Tamir’s family.
The new report and two others from experts already used by the family are the latest analysis of evidence to be released as a grand jury considers whether to bring charges against the officers in Tamir’s death.
The boy was shot after authorities received a report of a man pointing and waving a gun outside a recreation center in November 2014. The rookie officer who fired at Tamir, Timothy Loehmann, told investigators he repeatedly ordered the boy to “show me your hands” then saw him pulling a weapon from his waistband before opening fire.
It turned out Tamir was carrying a nonlethal, airsoft gun that shoots plastic pellets when Loehmann shot him outside the rec center. Tamir died a day later
Previous reports concluded that Loehmann shot Tamir within two seconds of opening his car door. The new analysis determined it happened even faster, within less than a second, according to the review by California-based shooting reconstruction expert Jesse Wobrock.
With the patrol car windows rolled up, Tamir could not have heard commands to show his hands, Wobrock added.
“The scientific analysis and timing involved do not support any claim that there was a meaningful exchange between Officer Loehmann and Tamir Rice, before he was shot,” Wobrock said.
Wobrock said comparing the location of a bullet hole in Tamir’s jacket with the location of the wound on his body indicated that the boy had lifted his arm – with his hand in his pocket – at the moment he was shot.
One of the things that the press has been obsessing about is the bomb factory in the garage of the San Bernadino shooters. Where were they when this happened in August?
An upstate New York man who blew his leg off in his garage making improvised explosive devices will be held in federal custody without bail because law enforcement found white supremacist paraphernalia and believe he’s dangerous,WGRZ reports.
Michael O’Neill, 45, a former Niagara County corrections officer, is accused of making seven bombs and was arrested two weeks ago after one of the devices accidentally went off. O’Neill was rushed to a hospital where his leg had to be amputated. He was the only one injured, WGRZ reports.
“Luckily, he is detained,” Assistant U.S. Attorney John Alsup told Time Warner Cable News. “He is no longer at large in the community with or without some of the physical disabilities he’s going to have going forward, but luckily for the community, he only hurt himself.”
Pictures of the KKK, Nazi imagery and the Confederate flag were found inside his home, which he lives in with his stepfather, William Ross, who chairs the Niagara County Legislature, WGRZ reports.
Even with his leg now missing, prosecutors believed it would be too risky for the public if O’Neill was released from custody.
The explosives he created contained nails and BB pellets, according to reports. One was labeled “powder with nails.”
His attorney said O’Neill was just planning to blow up some tree stumps.
“The fact that there were some items that we described in court as consistent with, white supremacists, to include the Ku Klux Klan, and the Nazi imagery, some of the verbiage which was particularly on the Nazi picture, also the Confederate battle flag, means that law enforcement has more work to go,” U.S. Attorney William Hochul told TWC News.
O’Neill will remain in the custody of the U.S. Marshalls while he recuperates, then will be transferred to a detention facility.
So, this dude also got instructions from somewhere on how to build these things. Why isn’t every one trying to track that down?
We really can’t find out much about the trends in gun violence because of this: Quietly, Congress extends a ban on CDC research on gun violence.
In the immediate aftermath of the massacre in Charleston, South Carolina, the US House of Representatives Appropriations Committee quietly rejected an amendment that would have allowed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to study the underlying causes of gun violence.
That has caused strange gyrations in research, such as this November report by the CDC into gun violence that manages not to be about guns.
Though gun violence and gun control has stayed in the forefront of the American conversation in recent months, most recently after Wednesday’s mass killings in a developmental disabilities center in San Bernardino, California, prohibition on gun research goes back decades.
Dr. Fred Rivara, a professor of Pediatrics and Epidemiology at the University of Washington at Seattle Children’s Hospital, has been involved with injury research for 30 years. He was part of a team that researched gun violence back in the 1990s and personally saw the chilling effects of the NRA’s lobbying arm. Rivara says that the NRA accused the CDC of trying to use science to promote gun control.
“As a result of that, many, many people stopped doing gun research, [and] the number of publications on firearm violence decreased dramatically,” he told The Takeaway in April. “It was really chilling in terms of our ability to conduct research on this very important problem.”
In 2013, some 34,000 Americans died from gunshot wounds. So Takeaway Washington Correspondent Todd Zwillich decided to ask House Speaker John Boehner why his party is trying to block research on gun violence.
“The CDC is there to look at diseases that need to be dealt with to protect public health,” Boehner said at a press conference last week. “I’m sorry, but a gun is not a disease. Guns don’t kill people — people do. And when people use weapons in a horrible way, we should condemn the actions of the individual and not blame the action on some weapon.”
There are a lot of good reasons to support studying factors that contribute to gun violence. The problem is that there is very little money to do such research and there’s actually bans on it when it comes to federal research time and money. This is ridiculous. This research ban and it’s impact are thankfully back in the news. I’m going to use the West Virginia newspaper article as an illustration. It includes descriptions of the 2013 moves by Pat Toomey and Joe Manchin to change gun registration laws as well as a discussion on trying to get new research on the root causes of gun violence. It’s an interesting read and it’s from this week.
Since 1996, Congress has barred the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from conducting research on gun violence. That restriction was extended to the National Institutes of Health in 2011.
What do West Virginia’s members of Congress, who represent the state with the 14th highest rate of gun death, think of this ban on research?
Rep. Evan Jenkins, R-W.Va., supports it.
Jenkins, who sits on the House Appropriations Committee, voted in June to continue forbidding the CDC from studying gun violence. The proposal to allow research never got past his committee.
“I will continue to be a strong advocate for protecting West Virginians’ Second Amendment rights,” Jenkins said at the time. “This language has been included since 1996 and for the past two decades, both Democrats and Republicans have been in the majority and both parties have chosen to continue it.”
The rest of West Virginia’s congressional delegation — Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat, and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, Rep. David McKinley and Rep. Alex Mooney, all Republicans — refused to say this week whether they think federal public health agencies should be allowed to study gun violence.
On Wednesday, the same day that two shooters killed 14 people at a center for the disabled in California, more than 2,000 doctors petitioned Congress to end its prohibition on gun violence research.
“Gun violence is a public health problem that kills 90 Americans a day,” Dr. Alice Chen, the director of Doctors for America, a health care advocacy group, said in a prepared statement. “Physicians believe it’s time to lift this effective ban and fund the research needed to save lives. We urge Congress to put patients over politics to help find solutions to our nation’s gun violence crisis.”
The ban on researching gun violence dates back to 1993, according to a 2013 report by the American Psychological Association.
In 1993, the New England Journal of Medicine published a CDC-funded study called “Gun ownership as a risk factor for homicide in the home.”
The study found that guns kept at home didn’t make people safer, in fact it found the opposite.
“Rather than confer protection, guns kept in the home are associated with an increase in the risk of homicide by a family member or intimate acquaintance,” the study concluded.
The study garnered quite a bit of media attention and the National Rifle Association responded by pushing for the center that funded the study — the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention — to be eliminated, according to the APA report.
Congress didn’t eliminate the center but responded by pulling the CDC’s funding for gun violence research and passing an effective ban on future gun research, according to the APA report. That ban has been continually renewed ever since.
It really makes sense to understand the factors that contribute to gun deaths. This is especially true when we see outsized focus on one small section of the deaths. Can we please have an address to the nation demanding money to study the root causes of gun violence? The CDC felt so compelled to study this topic that it had to do so by actually avoiding the big questions and the Congressional ban. It’s not that scientists or doctors don’t demand the data. It’s that politicians don’t want to see it. This particular study focused on Wilmington, DE. and was done through the back door. Notice that we do, in fact, have an executive order to study it.
On November 3, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a 14-page report on gun violence in Wilmington, Delaware, a medium-sized city of roughly 70,000 residents that also experiences one of the highest murder rates in the country. To judge by the language in its title — “Elevated Rates of Urban Firearm Violence and Opportunities for Prevention” — the study might seem to have been an overlooked watershed: Despite a 2013 executive order by President Barack Obama to resume research on gun violence, the CDC has adhered to a two-decade-old Congressional restriction that effectively bans such inquiries. Now here was a document suggesting it was tiptoeing back in.
Read through the Wilmington report, though, and you get a different story — one about the strange contortions that result as the CDC seeks to fulfill its public health mission without violating Congress’s orders.
While the new study analyzed Wilmington’s 127 recorded shootings in 2013, it does not address how the perpetrators acquired their weapons, or if attempts to limit access to firearms might lead to a dip in crime. Instead, the Wilmington report outlines already well-established trends and risk factors: that 95 percent of city residents arrested for violent crimes are young men; that a history of violence is a strong predictor for being involved in a firearm-related crime; and that unemployment is often a risk factor for violence. The report concludes that “integrating data systems” across Delaware would allow social service providers to better understand the issue.
If the CDC wasn’t going to consider the role of firearms in Wilmington’s gun crimes, why do the study at all? The answer is in the research’s origins, which lie in a bizarro world of not-actually-about-gun-violence gun violence studies that are an outgrowth of the Congressional ban. “It’s not like the study was initiated by the CDC,” Dr. Linda Degutis, the former director of the center’s national injury center, tells The Trace. “It was a response to a request from the city.”
Specifically, the Wilmington study is a product of the CDC’s “Epi-Aids” program, which assists states and local governments with public health problems through the agency’s Epidemic Intelligence Service division. Because the CDC is under immense political pressure to avoid doing anything that might even appear to “advocate or promote gun control” (in the words of Congress), Epi-Aid requests like Wilmington’s — which revolve around firearm-related public health issues — put the agency in a difficult situation. In a proper epidemiological study, guns themselves would be treated as a risk factor for many types of violence or injury — just as mosquitoes would be treated as a risk factor for contracting malaria, for example. As it is, the agency is confined to rehashing social or environmental factors that have already been thoroughly studied by injury researchers.
“When a health department requests an investigation of something, that’s basically within the CDC’s authorization, because they’re not necessarily saying ‘Let’s do gun violence research.’ They’re saying ‘Let’s figure out what’s going on here,’” says Degutis, who says she left the organization last year in part because she was frustrated with the difficulty of conducting research on gun violence.
Again, we’re beginning to see smaller journalism outlets and doctors openly discuss this issue. We can’t possibly have any practical, workable policies if all we have to on our pet political fetishes and the overwhelming presence of a terrorist-enabling lobbying group. When doing panel research on varying situations, a good researcher never focuses on one variable. Yet, we continually have public discussions on very few factors that contribute to gun violence. This is a problem.
On the Wednesday of the shooting in San Bernardino, California, only a few hours before the event took place, doctors went to Capitol Hill asking Congress to end the ban on gun violence research. They presented a petition signed by over 2,000 doctors nationwide, protesting a 1996 ban that prevents the Center For Disease Control from studying gun violence.
The ban was made after a CDC-funded study revealed that having a gun in the home increases the likelihood of homicide and suicide. The NRA convinced Congress that the CDC was using its power to advocate gun control, and Congress quickly cut funding for gun-related research. It wasn’t exactly a ban on all research, per se, but the amendment wasworded in such a confusing and vague way that no one knew for certain what was permitted. This created a climate of fear and intimidation with CDC researchers, where “no federal employee was willing to risk his or her career or the agency’s funding to find out” if they could study gun violence. But why would the CDC want to study gun violence, anyway?
Take the time to read some of these links. I know many of my links today actually go to in depth articles but it’s time to start contacting our congress critters and demanding money to study all of the sources of gun violence. There are many good statistics and facts in those articles you can use to beef up your letters and calls. We need to look beyond the sources that Republicans find politically expedient. This means that every time we have a rampage shooter the only thing we hear about our mental health issues and speculation about radical Islamic Wahhabi jihadists. This is ridiculous and it needs to stop. The only way to stop it is to start pressuring Congress to give us information and not fetishist screeds. This denigrates the deaths of every toddler shot by another toddler, every black man shot by a police officer, every woman and child shot by a domestic abuser, and the lives of mentally ill people and American Muslims that are blamed for shootings that are a small part of the large picture. We need information and real policies and no more platitudes.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Tuesday ReadsPosted: October 6, 2015 Filed under: Foreign Affairs, morning reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: California Police killings, children shooting children, Doctors Without Borders, Donald Trump, gun violence, Joe Biden, Joseph Baily, Kunduz hospital Afghanistan, MaKayla Dyer, South Carolina flooding 36 Comments
I’ve been so busy helping my Mom for the past few days that I haven’t been able to keep up with the news as much as I usually do. Fortunately Mom is doing well, and I plan to get back home before Halloween. I did have jury duty scheduled on October 20, but I was able to postpone it until next May. I want to avoid having it fall during a snowstorm or when the roads are really bad. I really hope the coming winter won’t be as bad in Boston as it was last year, but you never know.
Look at what’s going on down in South Carolina. The Washington Post has a helpful explanatory article on it: The meteorology behind South Carolina’s catastrophic, 1,000-year rainfall event.
The rains are tapering off in South Carolina after a disastrous weekend that brought over two feet of rain and catastrophic flooding. Dams have been breached, rivers are at record flood stage, homes and cars are filled with water and multiple people have been reported dead in the disaster.
Authorities in South Carolina on Monday urged people to stay home if it was safe to do so, saying that flooding was expected to continue in more than half the state for several days. On Sunday, authorities responded to hundreds of reports of trees in roadways and hundreds of reports of flooded roads. Tens of thousands of sandbags were used by state and local agencies, while a stretch of Interstate 95 was shut down and traffic rerouted. Overnight, several cities and counties declared curfews, while others have declared states of emergency….
According to statistics compiled by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, South Carolina’s torrential weekend rain has well surpassed a 1,000-year rainfall event — one that, on average, we would expect to see about every 1,000 years. A three-day, 1,000-year rainfall event for Charleston County would have been 17.1 inches. A four-day, 1,000-year event would have been 17.5 inches. Boones Farm Plantation, just north of Mount Pleasant, in Charleston County, reported more than 24 inches of rain through Sunday morning, which essentially blows NOAA’s 1,000-year events scale out of the water.
So this must have been caused by Hurricane Joaquin, right?
Hurricane Joaquin did play an indirect role in South Carolina’s weekend deluge, but there’s much more to this meteorological story.
As Hurricane Joaquin tracked north, well east of the coast, a separate, non-tropical low pressure system was setting up shop over the Southeast late last week. This system drew in a deep, tropical plume of water vapor off the tropical Atlantic Ocean. At the same time, this upper-level low pressure system tapped into the moist outflow of Hurricane Joaquin.
The moisture pipeline fed directly into a pocket of intense uplift on the northern side of the non-tropical vortex. Within this dynamic “sweet spot,” thunderstorms established a training pattern, passing repeatedly over the same location and creating a narrow corridor of torrential rain stretching from Charleston to the southern Appalachians.
The remarkable thing about this process is that it was sustained for three days.
Read much more at the link. Gee, you don’t suppose this has anything to do with global climate change, do you? Naaaaah.
The U.S. military and the Obama administration are having a hard time explaining why they bombed a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Afghanistan over the weekend. The Washington Post reports:
A heavily-armed U.S. gunship designed to provide added firepower to special operations forces was responsible for shooting and killing 22 people at a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan over the weekend, Pentagon officials said Monday.
The attack occurred in the middle of the night Saturday, when Afghan troops—together with a U.S. special forces team training and advising them—were on the ground near the hospital in Kunduz, the first major Afghan city to fall to the Taliban since the war began in 2001. The top U.S. general in Afghanistan said Monday the airstrike was requested by Afghan troops who had come under fire, contradicting earlier statements from Pentagon officials that the strike was ordered to protect U.S. forces on the ground.
The new details of the attack, and the continuing dispute over what exactly happened, heightened the controversy over the strike. In the two days since the incident, U.S. officials have struggled to explain how a U.S. aircraft wound up attacking a hospital run by Doctors Without Borders. On Monday, the medical humanitarian group said the United States was squarely responsible.
“The reality is the U.S. dropped those bombs,” Doctors Without Borders’ general director Christopher Stokes said in a statement. “With such constant discrepancies in the U.S. and Afghan accounts of what happened, the need for a full transparent independent investigation is ever more critical.”
The weekend’s disastrous airstrike reinforces doubts about how effectively a limited U.S. force in Afghanistan can work with Afghan troops to repel the Taliban, which has been newly emboldened as the United States draws down its presence.
The strike also comes as the Obama administration is currently weighing whether to keep as many as 5,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan beyond 2015, according to senior officials. Obama has not made a final decision on the proposal, but the recent advances by the Taliban have certainly complicated the president’s calculus.
The truth is that US forces have killed thousands of civilians in Afghanistan and other countries in the Middle East, but most of them didn’t have the cachet and the ability to engage the media that Doctors Without Borders does. Unfortunately, the administration’s explanations for the strike on the hospital have been all over the place. Also well worth reading is Amy Davidson’s column at The New Yorker: Five Questions About the Bombing of a Hospital in Kunduz.
Dakinikat had a great post on guns and gun control yesterday. I didn’t have time to read it carefully until this morning, so naturally gun stories caught my eye when I started to look at today’s news. There’s never any shortage of tragic stories involving guns. The worst ones are incidents in which children kill children.
From NBC News: Tennessee Boy, 11, Charged With Killing Girl After Argument Over Puppies.
An 11-year-old Tennessee boy was charged with shooting an 8-year-old girl to death with a 12-gauge shotgun after an argument over puppies Saturday, NBC affiliate WBIR reported.
A neighbor told the station that the girl, MaKayla Dyer, had been playing with neighbors on Saturday night in White Pine, outside Knoxville.
She started talking with the boy, who has not been identified, through an open window at his home.
“He asked the little girl to see her puppies,” the neighbor, Chasity Atwood, told WBID. “She said no and laughed and then turned around, looked at her friend and said, ‘Let’s go get the — ‘ and never got ‘puppies’ out.”
The boy had already shot her in the chest.
Dyer was transported to Morristown-Hamblen Hospital, where she was pronounced dead. The boy is being held in juvenile court on charges of first-degree murder.
This kid had access to a loaded shotgun in his home? What the hell is wrong with his parents?
In Ohio, an 11-year-old South Carolina boy accidentally shot and killed his 12-year old brother. CantonRep.com reports:
A 12-year-old South Carolina boy was fatally shot Friday in what authorities say was an accident during a target-shooting outing.
The victim was identified as Joseph Baily of More, South Carolina. The shooting occurred in the 8400 block of Bay Road in Carroll County’s Lee Township, southeast of Carrollton.
“It was an accident,” county Sheriff Dale Williams said Monday. “It (shooter) was a juvenile. It was a brother. His brother was 11 years old.” ….
“They were actually target shooting,” Carroll County Coroner Mandal Haas said. “They were visiting a friend they knew here in Ohio. This was real ammunition. It was a head wound.”
The weapon was a handgun.
“The 11-year-old picked up a weapon off of a picnic table,” Sheriff Williams said. “He accidentally shot it.”
While the shooting was accidental, Carroll County authorities, however, could file criminal charges. Those charges could be filed against who ever failed to secure the weapon.
Too little, too late. And check this one out from Georgia. CBS46.com Atlanta: Road rage suspect points gun at car, police let him go free.
A motorcycle driver who was caught on camera pulling out a gun and pointing it at another driver Sunday was allowed to go free, and a witness wants to know why.
It happened on State Highway 54 in Coweta County near the Fayette County line. To the man who captured the incident on his private dashboard camera, it looked like an incident of road rage, plain and simple.
The witness who recorded the video is a former Georgia police officer. CBS46 News is protecting his identity because of the nature of his current work. He said it’s his opinion that the motorcycle driver put everyone near him in danger. If the rider felt threatened, it appeared he had the power to get away from the situation, the witness said.
“Drawing a firearm, in just about every case, should be an absolute last resort. It seems like it was this guy’s first resort,” said the witness.
The witness followed the motorcycle while on the phone with 911 and helped police catch up with him. The rider was put in handcuffs, but in a surprise move, Coweta County Sheriff’s deputies decided to let him go.
“This guy is college-age. We know what just happened in Oregon. How do you not take a firearm out of the hand of a guy who’s going to behave this way- who’s going to act this reckless?” asked the witness.
So what was their reason for not arresting him? The witness said deputies told him they didn’t think the people in the black car would be in town to testify at the first appearance in court. It’s an excuse the former police officer said he’s not buying.
Nice. The guy who got off scot-free could be the next mass murderer.
But what about when gun victims are shot by the police? Ordinarily, I don’t agree with Connor Friedersdorf, but he has a great piece in The Atlantic: Police in California Killed More Than 610 People Over 6 Years.
The ACLU of Southern California has been working to understand how many people have been killed by law enforcement in America’s most populous state. What they found is alarming. Over a six-year period that ended in 2014, California’s Department of Justice recorded 610 instances of law enforcement committing homicide “in the process of arrest.”
That figure is far from perfect. It excludes some homicides in 2014 that are still being investigated. And it understates the actual number of people killed by police officers and sheriffs deputies in other ways. For example, after Dante Parker was mistaken for a criminal, stunned with a Taser at least 25 times, hog-tied face down, and denied medical care, California authorities classified his death as “accidental.”
Still, the official number is 610 homicides attributed to law enforcement “in the process of arrest.”
Officially, 608 are classified as justified. Just two are officially considered unjustified. In one unjustified killing, there’s video of a policeman shooting Oscar Grant in the head as he lay face down in a BART station. In the other, there is extended video of police brutally beating a mentally ill man, Kelly Thomas, to death.
Officially speaking, only police officers who were being filmed killed people in unjustified ways. Whether law enforcement performs less professionally when cameras are rolling is unclear. But it seems more likely that the spread of digital-recording technology will reveal that unjust killings are more common than was previously thought.
Read the rest of this important article at the link.
I’ll end with a couple of political stories. Politico has an exclusive on Joe Biden this morning: Biden himself leaked word of his son’s dying wish.
Joe Biden has been making his 2016 deliberations all about his late son since August.
Aug. 1, to be exact — the day renowned Hillary Clinton-critic Maureen Dowd published a column that marked a turning point in the presidential speculation.
According to multiple sources, it was Biden himself who talked to her, painting a tragic portrait of a dying son, Beau’s face partially paralyzed, sitting his father down and trying to make him promise to run for president because “the White House should not revert to the Clintons and that the country would be better off with Biden values.”
It was no coincidence that the preliminary pieces around a prospective campaign started moving right after that column. People read Dowd and started reaching out, those around the vice president would say by way of defensive explanation. He was just answering the phone and listening.
But in truth, Biden had effectively placed an ad in The New York Times, asking them to call.
What an a-hole.
By every account of those surrounding Biden, Beau is constantly on his father’s mind. But so are Clinton’s poll numbers — and his own, as the vice president notes in private details, such as the crosstab data that show him drawing more support from Clinton than Bernie Sanders. So is the prospect of what it would mean to run against a candidate who would make history as the first female nominee, and potentially first female president. So is knowing that the filing deadlines are quickly closing in and that he almost certainly has to decide in roughly the next week to make even a seat-of-the-pants campaign possible.
“Calculation sort of sounds crass, but I guess that’s what it is,” said one person who’s recently spoken to Biden about the prospect of running. “The head is further down the road than the heart is.”
Ugh. There’s plenty more disgusting stuff at Politco, including some tidbits about Biden’s “secret” meeting with Elizabeth Warren.
Finally, the king of a-holes continues to act unpresidential. From Business Insider:
Real-estate developer Donald Trump took his feud with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) to a rather unique place this week, sending a gag gift to Rubio’s presidential campaign office.
According to CNN, Trump’s campaign sent Rubio a “a care package” on Monday containing a 24-pack case of “Trump Ice” bottled water, two “Make America Great Again” towels, and a note that said: “Since you’re always sweating, we thought you could use some water. Enjoy!”
As much as I can’t stand Rubio, Trump is the worst of the worst.
What else is happening? Please share your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a terrific Tuesday!