Monday Reads: Stranger than Fiction and all that jazz

Good Afternoon!!!

0427-OLOCH-Britain-Loch-Ness

Today is the Anniversary of the first sighting of the Loch Ness Monster back in the 1930s.  I figure that’s as good of a place as any to start our reads today because everything else is a lot less believable. This is the type of monster sighting I’d like to read about. Unfortunately, it’s not the kind of monster sighting we get today.

Newly published documents reveal that a Scottish police official in the 1930s believed ‘beyond doubt’ that the Loch Ness monster existed. Expert Loren Coleman says it reveals the government’s longstanding policy to protect the mythic beast.

I’m pretty much turning into a victim of shaken head syndrome because I find myself doing that or picking my jaw up off the floor nearly daily. Every day there’s a monster sighting on the internet.  Perhaps having a major political party elect a known-nothing reality TV star for president has something to do with it.   Donald Trump has this way of bringing out the worst in people and bringing out the worst people. He is the monster we see today on the internet and on TV and he brings a lot of them with him.

This is not a headline I expected to see over the weekend or even these days. That is until the Donald stirred the White Supremacy pot. “Armed, Confederate flag-waving White Lives Matter protesters rally outside Houston NAACP.”    Houston, you have a problem.

White Lives Matter staged a rally outside the NAACP’s Houston headquarters on Sunday, sparking controversy and counter-protests in a city where racial tensions remain high after a string of recent incidents.

Clutching Confederate flags, white supremacist signs and, in several cases, assault rifles, roughly 20 White Lives Matter members stood on the sidewalk of a historically black neighborhood to denounce the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

“We came out here specifically today to protest against the NAACP and their failure in speaking out against the atrocities that organizations like Black Lives Matter and other pro-black organizations have caused the attack and killing of white police officers, the burning down of cities and things of that nature,” organizer Ken Reed told the Houston Chronicle. “If they’re going to be a civil rights organization and defend their people, they also need to hold their people accountable.”

Reed, who was wearing a “Donald Trump ’16” hat and a “White Lives Matter” shirt with white supremacist symbols, said protesters were “not out here to instigate or start any problems,” despite the weaponry and body armor on display.

Of course!  No one whose been listening to Trump spout his “second amendment solutions” advice has any malice or intent to do harm to anyone!  This guy in Tulsa, Oklahoma–as an example–was just exercising his metaphorical ness-1934constitutional rights a few weeks ago too!

For years, the Jabara family says, their Tulsa neighbor terrorized them.

He called them names — “dirty Arabs,” “filthy Lebanese,” they said.

He hurled racial epithets at those who came to work on their lawns, they alleged.

He ran Haifa Jabara over with his car and went to court for it.

And it all came to a head last week when the man, Stanley Vernon Majors, walked up to the front steps of the family home and shot and killed Khalid Jabara, police said.

“The frustration that we continue to see anti-Muslim, anti-Arab, xenophobic rhetoric and hate speech has unfortunately led up to a tragedy like this,” it said.

Or this guy that gunned down an Imam in NYC with his assistant.  Just a white guy waxing in that special first amendment way and exercising his second amendment solutions.article-2604176-06EBDC54000005DC-231_634x494

Saturday’s shooting was not the first incident of violence to hit this growing Bangladeshi community, which straddles the border between the New York boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn.

For years, attacks have happened, most frequently during Ramadan, the holiest month of the Islamic calendar, when activity at the five neighborhood mosques peaks. Police bolstered patrolling efforts and stationed officers outside of mosques during the month. For the most part, community members said their presence has been helpful.

But protection during Ramadan is not enough, Hoque said.

“I feel like 106 Precinct is very lazy because they don’t have enough patrolman in our area,” she said. At the rally, Hoque said she witnessed community members, usually on the side of the police, levy similar charges.

While some uneasy neighborhood residents believe the need for more robust policing is greater than ever, some younger community members feel it is time to lessen the community’s dependence on police.

On Wednesday afternoon, the men of Al-Furqan Jame Masjid were gathered in the prayer space, which amounted to little more than two adjoining rooms cooled by an array of three-armed ceiling fans. There, they discussed plans for succession and next steps.

Mohamed Amen, an Egyptian-American police officer in the community affairs bureau, was among the men seated in front of the crowd of 30 men.

During his comments, Officer Amen reiterated that morning’s news: the charges against Oscar Morel, the suspected killer, had been changed from second-degree murder to first-degree murder. If convicted, he explained, the assailant could face life in prison without parole.

“Alhamdulilah,” a few men murmured in unison. Thank God.

Then he addressed the matter of motive. “I can tell you that the hate crimes unit is conducting its own investigation,” he said.

Travel.Scotland, Oddities. pic: June 1969. American submarine expert Dan Taylor sits in the cockpit of his 20 foot submarine at Loch Ness, where he will go underwater to search for the Loch Ness Monster. PPP

Travel.Scotland, Oddities. pic: June 1969. American submarine expert Dan Taylor sits in the cockpit of his 20 foot submarine at Loch Ness, where he will go underwater to search for the Loch Ness Monster. PPP

It does seem that some Republicans and former Trump supporters are beginning to understand that Trump appears to be leading a movement of white nationalists and supremacists.  This is despite the attempt by some to dress the wolf up in sheep’s clothing.

Donald Trump is alienating his own supporters because of his sometimes “erratic” and inflammatory ad hominem attacks, according to a focus group held Saturday by pollster and Republican strategist Frank Luntz.

“He was my first choice. But just along the way, he has — I guess you can say he’s lost me,”  one participant said in the focus group, which aired Sunday as a segment on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “I’m not saying there’s no chance of turning but he’s become outrageous. I mean, we all have thoughts, but I think he speaks without thinking.”

The panel, conducted in Pennsylvania, only had a handful of attendees that were still committed to supporting the GOP nominee. Several more participants once backed Trump but no longer do.

“When he initially began to run, he gave voice to a lot of the frustrations that I was feeling about how government is working or more to the point not working,” one man, Michael R., said. “But since then, he’s been running as a 12 year old and changes his positions every news cycle, so you don’t even know where he stands on the issues.”

Another, Howard E. chimed in: “Whenever somebody makes a derogatory comment to him, like in a democratic convention, Trump feels like he needs to attack that person. And he says things that are crazy. And I keep asking myself: is this the kind of person I want to handle the nuclear codes?”

Luntz followed up, asking, “what’s the answer?”

Howard responded: “No way.”

If Republicans are looking for a kinder, gentler, more presidential Donald Trump, they aren’t getting him today.  He was more preoccupied with gossiping about Morning Joke and Mika then doing outreach to African Americans with “nothing to lose”._63417388_olderpiclake_getty

On Monday morning he trained his Twitter fire at the MSNBC show “Morning Joe,” formerly one of his favorite places to campaign.

 Trump criticized “Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski in highly personal terms, calling her “off the wall, a neurotic and not very bright mess!”

He also implied that Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough have been secretly dating. He called them “two clowns.”

The comments about Brzezinski were reminiscent of Trump’s highly personal attacks against Fox host Megyn Kelly.

The co-hosts were in the middle of a three-hour live broadcast at the time and had been highly critical of Trump earlier in the morning.

Scarborough responded during a commercial break, stating that “Clinton is targeting key swing states today while Trump starts his day obsessed with cable news hosts while channeling Gawker.”

He ended the tweet with one of Trump’s favorite put-downs: “SAD!”

More people are beginning to worry that his end game is actually to start a Alt-right/White Nationalist media empire given his thrown in with both Alec Jones and Steve Bannon.Calgary_Herald_281057

Has Donald Trump given up on winning the White House and “pivoted” (this might be his real pivot) to a full-blown effort to build a national following that will outlast the election, perhaps allowing him to establish a media empire with him at the helm — one that caters, at least to some degree, to a white nationalist or “alt-right” audience? Was that his plan all along?

The last few days have brought fresh reporting and evidence that suggest this is where Trump is really headed, a scenario that a numberof observers (your humble blogger included) have been speculating about for months. I thought it would be useful to round up this evidence:

* Vanity Fair media writer Sarah Ellison reports in a radio interviewthat Trump has had private discussions with his inner circle about “how to monetize” the new audience he’s built up. As Ellison puts it, this potential goal should no longer be seen as “speculation.”

* The New York Times reports today that in July, Trump’s campaign “spent more on renting arenas for his speeches” than he did on setting up a national field operation, leaving him with no operation to speak of. That is consistent with the idea that Trump (as I’ve speculated) is very consciously sinking most of his resources into a format (rallies) that allows him to continue staging his unique form of raucous WWE-style political entertainment, and building an audience that thrills to it, rather than winning a general election.

Sunday Express Article 230751 Zoom InMeanwhile, Campaign Mommy Kellyanne Conway insists that the Donald doesn’t hurl any personal insults. 

In February, Conway called Trump’s attacks on rivals like Cruz “vulgar.”

“Do I want somebody who hurls personal insults,” she asked on CNN, “or who goes and talks about philosophical differences?”

On Sunday, though, Conway claimed that Trump’s tone has changed and that he’s already made a pivot “on substance.”

“He doesn’t hurl personal insults,” she said. “What he’s doing is he’s challenging the Democratic Party. He’s challenging Hillary Clinton and President Obama’s legacy.”

She’s been mommysplaining her “pivots” from the Cruz campaign to the Trump nearly all weekend.  It’s really pretty disgusting and disingenuous which appear to be her trademarks.  However, there’s no way to mommysplain Steven Bannon who has been labelled “the most dangerous political operative in America” and wants to take down establishment Republicans as well as democrats.  Check this piece about him out even though it’s from last year.

While attacking the favored candidates in both parties at once may seem odd, Bannon says he’s motivated by the same populist disgust with Washington that’s animating candidates from Trump to Bernie Sanders. Like both, Bannon is having a bigger influence than anyone could have reasonably expected. But in the Year of the Outsider, it’s perhaps fitting that a figure like Bannon, whom nobody saw coming, would roil the national political debate.

 

The biggest scare now is that Trump has been priming the pump about rigged elections and evil media plots against him.  Given that his followers now regularly threaten the media and a few of them are using their second amendment solutions are immigrants, what can we expect when he loses?  Will we have the police dealing with the well-armed League of Angry White men?

“Among the values most necessary for a functioning democracy is the peaceful transition of power that’s gone on uninterrupted since 1797. What enables that is the acceptance of the election’s outcome by the losers,” said Steve Schmidt, the GOP operative who was McCain’s campaign strategist in 2008.

“Here you have a candidate after a terrible three weeks, which has all been self-inflicted, saying the only way we lose is if it’s ‘rigged’ or stolen — in a media culture where people increasingly don’t buy into generally accepted facts and turn to places to have their opinions validated where there’s no wall between extreme and mainstream positions. That’s an assault on some of the pillars that undergird our system. People need to understand just how radical a departure this is from the mean of American politics.”

Should Trump opt not to concede after a loss or deliberately roil his supporters and spark uprisings by refusing to accept the legitimacy of the election results, he would still have little recourse to alter a significant electoral victory for Clinton. Only if the election were close, hinging on one or two states where there were alleged voting irregularities, could Trump seriously contest the result in court.

But beyond who wins the White House in November, many Republicans fear that Trump’s efforts to diminish people’s confidence in mainstream media, fair elections and politics itself will have a lasting impact.

I’m expecting a good deal of these dudes will not go quietly into that great night.  Frankly, I hope the police are up to it.  There’s a reliance on conspiracy theories and monster sightings that scares the bejeebus out of me.  It’s hard to know what exactly what folks like this will do when backed into reality.  The Donald Trump monster is not fake in the traditional sense of monster sightings.  He’s more than real even though everything he promises, affirms as truth, and does is not particularly real.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Tuesday Reads: The Orlando Attack Was Anti-LGBT Terrorism

 internalized-homophobia

Good Morning!!

As we learn more about Omar Mateen, the man who murdered 49 people and injured 53 others at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, it is becoming clear that it was no accident that the gunman deliberately targeted LGBT people. His claims of connections to overseas terror groups may have been little more than a cover for his own “internalized homophobia.” From an LGBT support website “Revel and Riot.” The image at the top of this post also comes from the Revel and Riot article.

THE DEFINITION

Simply put, internalized homophobia happens when LGBQ individuals are subjected to society’s negative perceptions, intolerance and stigmas towards LGBQ people, and as a result, turn those ideas inward believing they are true.

It has been defined as ‘the gay person’s direction of negative social attitudes toward the self, leading to a devaluation of the self and resultant internal conflicts and poor self-regard.’ (Meyer and Dean, 1998).

Or as “the self-hatred that occurs as a result of being a socially stigmatized person.” (Locke, 1998).

PROBLEMS WITH THE TERM

Many LGBQ people do not relate to the expression “internalized homophobia” and as a result end up rejecting the idea before thoroughly examining its meaning. The word “internalized” presents the first barrier. “The concept suggests weakness rather than the resilience demonstrated by lesbians and gay men and keeps the focus away from the structures of inequality and oppression.” (Williamson, I., 2000) The word “homophobia” is the next complication – a difficult and seemingly illogical possibility. How can someone who identifies as LGBQ also have feelings of dislike, fear, and disgust towards themselves? So what can we do about the fact that the combination of words “internalized” and “homophobia” feel unrelatable for so many LGBQs?

Researchers have suggested that using ‘heterosexism’, ‘self-prejudice,’ and ‘homonegativity,’ in addition to the widely accepted term “internalized homophobia,” can help to add depth to our comprehension of the true meaning of the issue.

WHY DOES IT HAPPEN?

Internalized homophobia is a concept much more nuanced than it’s simple definition would suggest. It is clear that the word “homophobia” in this context, is misleading – the over simplified idea that it is individual acts of fear and ignorance diverts our attention from the much more pervasive systemic oppression that is at the root of the problem. The hateful and intolerant behavior of those closest to us often has the most profound impact (parents, church community, peers, partners). While they should be held responsible as individuals, the real culprit is an aggressively heterosexist society that is defining what is “normal,” and therefore what is “right” and “wrong,” through laws, policy, culture, education, health care, religion and family life. This systemic oppression is meant to enforce the gender binary, marginalize LGBTQ people, and keep heterosexual people and their relationships in a position of dominance and privilege.

When we see that homophobia is a result of a this larger system, we see that it is institutional; that it is impossible to exist outside of it; that the real definition of it is so much more than the dictionary simplicity of “irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuality or homosexuals;” that the root structure is vast, affecting every aspect of life and culture. All of these factors make dismantling heterosexism extremely complicated, and uprooting internalized homophobia even more so.

The above paragraphs form the introduction to a long article, complete with academic references. I can’t help but wonder if it may provide a better explanation for Omar Mateen’s actions than the reflexive assumption that his terrorist attack was inspired the quite disparate terror groups that he claimed connections with.

Pulse nightclub after the attack.

Pulse nightclub after the attack.

From Al Jazeera: Orlando: Omar Mateen ‘pledged loyalty to ISIL, others.’

An American man suspected of killing at least 49 people in a gay nightclub in Orlando espoused support for a jumble of often-conflicting organisations, according to the director of the FBI.

As details of the worst mass shooting in US history emerged, FBI Director James Comey said on Monday that the suspect, identified as 29-year-old Omar Mateen, had not only pledged loyalty to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS), but also expressed solidarity with the Tsarnaev brothers who carried out the Boston Marathon bombing and a suicide bomber who died on behalf of the al-Nusra front, a group at odds with ISIL.

“They’re really trying to paint a picture of a confused person, who felt targeted because of his religion,” said Al Jazeera’s Patty Culhane, reporting from Orlando.

The shooter had called 911 during the attack at the Pulse nightclub early on Sunday to express his allegiance to ISIL.

But Comey – who believed Mateen had “strong signs of radicalisation” – said that in the past few years, the gunman also expressed support for both al-Qaeda and Hezbollah.

The FBI investigated Omar Mateen for 10 months beginning in May 2013 after he was said to have inflammatory remarks in support of terrorists.

Mateen appears to have been confused about the groups he named and that they were in opposition to each other. It now seems that these claims were attempts to draw attention away from his conflicted attitudes toward LGBT people and possibly toward his own sexuality.

Lawrence Mower at The Palm Beach Post: Orlando shooter Omar Mateen was gay, former classmate says.

A former classmate of Omar Mateen’s 2006 police academy class said he believed Mateen was gay, saying Mateen once asked him out….

The classmate said that he, Mateen and other classmates would hang out, sometimes going to gay nightclubs, after classes at the Indian River Community College police academy. He said Mateen asked him out romantically.

“We went to a few gay bars with him, and I was not out at the time, so I declined his offer,” the former classmate said. He asked that his name not be used.

He believed Mateen was gay, but not open about it. Mateen was awkward, and for a while the classmate and the rest in the group of friends felt sorry for him.

“He just wanted to fit in and no one liked him,” he said. “He was always socially awkward.”

Members of YAWF (Youth Against War & Fascism) carry a banner in the Fifth Annual Gay Pride Day march (Gay Liberation Day), New York, New York, June 30, 1974. It reads 'Stonewall Means... Fight Back! Smash Gay Oppression!' (Photo by Fred W. McDarrah/Getty Images)

Members of YAWF (Youth Against War & Fascism) carry a banner in the Fifth Annual Gay Pride Day march (Gay Liberation Day), New York, New York, June 30, 1974. It reads ‘Stonewall Means… Fight Back! Smash Gay Oppression!’ (Photo by Fred W. McDarrah/Getty Images)

The Orlando Sentinel: Witness: Omar Mateen drank alone at Pulse before attack.

 At least four regular customers at the Orlando gay nightclub where a gunman killed 49 people said Monday that they had seen Omar Mateen there before.

“Sometimes he would go over in the corner and sit and drink by himself, and other times he would get so drunk he was loud and belligerent,” Ty Smith said.

Smith told the Orlando Sentinel that he saw Mateen inside at least a dozen times.

“We didn’t really talk to him a lot, but I remember him saying things about his dad at times,” Smith said. “He told us he had a wife and child.” ….

Another Pulse regular, Kevin West, told the Los Angeles Times that Mateen messaged him on and off for a year using a gay chat app.

They had never met, West said, but he watched as Mateen entered the club about 1 a.m. Sunday, an hour before the shooting began.

There’s quite a bit of information about Mateen’s connections to law enforcement in the article. I think those could reveal a great deal about his personality as well as his attitudes toward homosexuality. I’m sure we’ll be learning more in the days ahead.

According to The Daily Mail, even Mateen’s ex-wife says he had “gay tendencies.” From the article:

Many in the Orlando gay community are now coming forward to share similar stories of seeing Mateen at clubs for the past decade or speaking to him on hookup apps….

Regulars at Pulse said they saw Mateen several times over the past three years drinking alcohol and dancing with men.

A couple who perform as drag-queens at the popular venue in 1912 South Orange Avenue said they had seen the 29-year-old party at Pulse.

Ty Smith and Chris Callen said the father-of-one was sometimes so drunk he had to be removed from the club.

Callen, who performs as Kristina McLaughlin, said: ‘I’ve seen him a couple of times at Pulse, a couple of other people that I’ve spoken with, including an-ex security guard, have actually witnessed this guy at Pulse many times before.’

Smith said he’d seen Mateen at Pulse ‘at least a dozen times.’

‘We didn’t really talk to him a lot, but I remember him saying things about his dad at times,’ Smith said. ‘He told us he had a wife and child.’

A security guard who worked at the club two years ago still remembered Mateen turning up to the venue, he added.

Orlando’s gay community is still reeling from the tragedy, and those who had seen Mateen at gay clubs before seem to all have a story to share about his temper.

Callen said Mateen, who seemed like a ‘nice guy’ and was ‘comfortable’ with the draq queens, threatened someone with a knife when he became angry about a religious joke.

Remarks that Mateen drank heavily conflict with his apparently strict adherence to his Muslim faith, including regular worship at a mosque in his home town of Port St. Lucie – where he was quiet and kept to himself.

It seems fairly obvious that Mateen’s attack on The Pulse was a terrorist attack against the LGBT community perpetrated by a confused young man–just as the murders at Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs were a terrorist attack against women, despite that fact that authorities won’t call it one. The only reason the focus in the Orlando attack has been on connections to foreign terrorism is that Omar Mateen’s parents came from Afghanistan. They were here long before 9/11, because Mateen was born in Queens, NY and he was 29 years old.

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Here’s a 2012 article from Scientific American on the possible connections between homophobia and repressed homosexuality: Homophobes Might Be Hidden Homosexuals.

Homophobes should consider a little self-reflection, suggests a new study finding those individuals who are most hostile toward gays and hold strong anti-gay views may themselves have same-sex desires, albeit undercover ones.

The prejudice of homophobia may also stem from authoritarian parents, particularly those with homophobic views as well, the researchers added.

“This study shows that if you are feeling that kind of visceral reaction to an out-group, ask yourself, ‘Why?'” co-author Richard Ryan, a professor of psychology at the University of Rochester, said in a statement. “Those intense emotions should serve as a call to self-reflection.”

The research, published in the April 2012 issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, reveals the nuances of prejudices like homophobia, which can ultimately have dire consequences. [The 10 Most Destructive Human Behaviors]

“Sometimes people are threatened by gays and lesbians because they are fearing their own impulses, in a sense they ‘doth protest too much,'” Ryan told LiveScience. “In addition, it appears that sometimes those who would oppress others have been oppressed themselves, and we can have some compassion for them too, they may be unaccepting of others because they cannot be accepting of themselves.”

Ryan cautioned, however, that this link is only one source of anti-gay sentiments.

Read much more about these studies at the link.

born-child-homophobia-homophobic-quote-favim_com-143354

It’s very important not to allow the media and Republicans to erase the fact that the attack on The Pulse was an attack on the rights of people in the LGBT community and their freedom to gather and support each other in public places.

A few more relevant links:

The Atlantic: The Extraordinarily Common Violence Against LGBT People in America.

Erasing 76 Crimes: 1000s who died in anti-gay, anti-trans attacks (updates).

The New York Times: Before Orlando, There Was New Orleans.

The Daily Beast: Drag Queen: Anti-Gay Terrorist Omar Mateen Was My Friend.

The Christian Science Monitor: For gay community, Orlando a sign threats remain amid growing tolerance.

The Desert Sun: Anti-gay community has blood on its hands: Column.

What stories are you following today? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread below.

 


Thursday Reads: A Sad Day

Split Sadness, Nicki Sands

Split Sadness, Nicki Sands

A Sorrowful Good Morning.

The top story this morning is the shocking mass murder of 9 people in a predominantly black church in Charleston, South Carolina yesterday. Authorities are calling it a hate crime. The shooter has not yet been caught, but surveillance photos of him and his care have been released.

Reuters reports: Manhunt follows attack on historic black South Carolina church.

Police in Charleston, South Carolina, were searching for a white gunman on Thursday who killed nine people in a historic African-American church, in an attack that police and the city’s mayor described as a hate crime.

The shooter, a 21-year-old white man with sandy blond hair, sat with churchgoers inside Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church for about an hour on Wednesday before opening fire, Police Chief Gregory Mullen said.

The victims included Reverend Clementa Pinckney, the church’s pastor and a Democratic member of the state Senate, his cousin and fellow state senator, Kent Williams, told CNN.

The gunman is extremely dangerous, Mullen said, and police did not have a sense of where he might be.

“This is an unfathomable and unspeakable act by somebody filled with hate and with a deranged mind,” Charleston Mayor Joe Riley told reporters.

Six females and three males died in the attack, Mullen said.

AP photo: Police talk to a man outside the Emanuel AME Church following a shooting, June 17, 2015, in Charleston, South Carolina.

AP photo: Police talk to a man outside the Emanuel AME Church following a shooting, June 17, 2015, in Charleston, South Carolina.

More from The Washington Post: 9 dead in ‘hate crime’ shooting at historic African American church in Charleston.

CHARLESTON, S.C. — Police widened the search Thursday for a gunman who opened fire and killed nine people during a prayer service at a historic African American church in downtown Charleston, in one of the worst attacks on a place of worship in the United States in recent memory.

At least one other person was injured in the Wednesday night assault, which began about an hour after the assailant entered the church and observed the service, authorities said.

“We believe this is a hate crime; that is how we are investigating it,” Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen said at a dawn news conference.

What a horrible crime. I hope they catch this dangerous young man soon.

Officers in fatigues, some with dogs, said they were searching “near and far” for the gunman, described as a clean-shaven white male in his early 20s with sandy blond hair and a slight build. Police said he was wearing a gray sweatshirt, blue jeans and Timberland boots. He is believed to be the only shooter.

At a nearby Embassy Suites, which was serving as an informal headquarters for church members, people began sobbing and screaming as they learned details about what had happened.

“We just left speaking to members of the families,” Charleston Mayor Joseph Riley (D) told reporters overnight. “It was a heartbreaking scene I have never witnessed in my life before.” ….

Though authorities did not release the names of the victims, the church’s pastor, Clementa Pinckney, who is also a South Carolina state senator, was missing after the shooting, and some members of the congregation feared the worst. Indeed, House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford said Pinckney was among the dead, and friends started posting “RIP” condolences on social media.

Suspect police are searching for in connection with the shooting at a church in Charleston, South Carolina is seen from CCTV footage released by the Charleston Police Department June 18, 2015. REUTERS/Charleston Police Department

Suspect police are searching for in connection with the shooting at a church in Charleston, South Carolina is seen from CCTV footage released by the Charleston Police Department June 18, 2015. REUTERS/Charleston Police Department

From ABC News: Police Release Photos of Charleston, South Carolina, Church Shooting Suspect.

The suspect was described as approximately 5-foot-9, wearing a sweatshirt with distinctive markings and Timberland boots, police said. Joining the search were the FBI and state law enforcement.

Police also said the car he was driving had a “very distinctive” license plate. Officials would not elaborate on the make and model of the car.

“This is an all-hands-on deck effort with the community and law enforcement,” Mullen said.

Police said they had set up a tip line — 1-800-CALL-FBI — advised the public to be alert and said to call 911 and not approach.

How many more of these mass shootings do we need to have before we do something to control access to guns in this country? This time it’s a hate crime too. If this isn’t terrorism, what is?

Rev. Clementa Pinckney

Rev. Clementa Pinckney

According to The Chicago Tribune, Rev. Clementa Pinckney had sponsored a bill to have police officers wear body cameras.

Pinckney 41, was a married father of two who was elected to the state House at age 23, making him the youngest member of the House at the time.

“He never had anything bad to say about anybody, even when I thought he should,” Rutherford, D-Columbia, said. “He was always out doing work either for his parishioners or his constituents. He touched everybody.”

The attack came two months after the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man, Walter Scott, by a white police officer in neighboring North Charleston that sparked major protests and highlighted racial tensions in the area. The officer has been charged with murder, and the shooting prompted South Carolina lawmakers to push through a bill helping all police agencies in the state get body cameras. Pinckney was a major sponsor of that bill.

I’m feeling incredibly sad. I don’t know what else to say.

And now this from Raw Story: Shooter opens fire on church in Memphis hours after terrorist kills nine in Charleston.

During choir practice in Memphis, a gunman opened fire. A bullet remains lodged in the wall of the church, CBS reports.

As of press time, police are at the St. Matthew Missionary Baptist Church on Pendleton Street making inquiries and collecting information. WREG reports officers were called to the scene at 6:45 a.m. on Thursday.

No one was injured during the shooting.

News of the Memphis shooting spread quickly on social media this morning, in a country grappling with this Wednesday’s shooting by a white man in Charleston, South Carolina whoopened fire in a black church and killed nine people.

Read some of the tweets at the link. And please be careful in Memphis, JJ.

More News:

I’m going to give you the rest of the news in a link dump. I have to rush around today, because I’m getting ready to leave for Indiana tomorrow to celebrate my mother’s 90th birthday. Her birthday was June 10, but we’re having a big party on the 27th. I have to get out there early to help get things organized.

Hollywood Reporter: Donald Trump Campaign Offered Actors $50 to Cheer for Him at Presidential Announcement.

The New York Daily News: Five-decade study links pesticide DDT to breast cancer.

The Washington Post: The $10 bill will soon feature a woman. But the debate is only beginning.

A racial incident involving police and black teenagers in Cincinnati: What really happened at Fairfield pool?

The New York Times: Pope Francis, in Sweeping Encyclical, Calls for Swift Action on Climate Change.

The Guardian: Pope’s climate change encyclical tells rich nations: pay your debt to the poor.

The New Republic: The Last Time Conservatives Dismissed a Major Encyclical, It Ended Terribly for Them.

Salon: Fox News as we know it may be screwed: Roger Ailes’ stunning rebuke could spell the end. With Rupert Murdoch stepping aside, Roger Ailes will now report to Murdoch’s Fox-hating sons.

New York Magazine: Roger Ailes’s Demotion Signals Power Shift Within Murdoch Empire.

CNN: Brian Williams expected to stay at NBC (but he won’t be a news anchor).

WPTZ Channel 5: No evidence escaped prisoners have left area, police say. 600 officers still searching for David Sweat, Richard Matt.

The Washington Post: Why Roger Goodell might be in tough spot on Tom Brady suspension.

CBS News: American Enterprise Institute finds Wells Report ‘deeply flawed.’ They found no evidence that the Patriots’ footballs were even deflated.

What else is happening? Please share your thoughts and links in the comment thread below.


Wednesday Reads: You like chicken. Order that.

3e5baafcd1a0acc0135766e49746d593Good Morning

Today’s post will focus on discrimination, hate and hate crimes. Whether it is outright racism… unquestionable prejudice…probable intolerance or a hint of bigotry with a touch of “that just ain’t right” sexism.

First up however, a quick look at what is going on in Ferguson:

Another Night Of Unrest During Tenth Night Of Protests In Ferguson

After nine nights of unrest met with tear gas, riot gear and a National Guard presence, Tuesday night in Ferguson, Missouri began peacefully. But by midnight central time, tensions began to rise.

Many protesters marched along West Florissant Avenue, chanting “no justice no peace,” and “hands up, don’t shoot,” while others loitered looking on. Police were not enforcing Capt. Ron Johnson’s rule forcing protesters to keep moving or risk removal.

While people were relieved at the initial lack of confrontation Tuesday night, everyone recognized how fragile the situation was and that it could turn instantly.

I really don’t know what happened overnight, but Holder did make a statement about the situation.

Eric Holder Pens Message to Ferguson Ahead of Wednesday’s Visit

Attorney General Eric Holder will visit Ferguson, Missouri on Wednesday to get briefed by local authorities on the situation there following the fatal shooting of 18-year-old unarmed Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson. But before he arrives, Holder has written a message to the people of Ferguson for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

“At a time when so much may seem uncertain, the people of Ferguson can have confidence that the Justice Department intends to learn — in a fair and thorough manner — exactly what happened,” Holder writes.

He says he plans to “meet personally with community leaders, FBI investigators and federal prosecutors from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to receive detailed briefings on the status of this case” while in Ferguson tomorrow.

Holder urges an “end to the acts of violence in the streets of Ferguson,” saying that “they seriously undermine, rather than advance, the cause of justice.” He also vows that the Justice Department will “defend the right of protesters to peacefully demonstrate and for the media to cover a story that must be told.”

Here’s some thoughts regarding Holder’s statement and his plans to go to Ferguson:

Wall Street Journal editor: Eric Holder should tell Ferguson protesters to ‘pull up their pants’

Yeah, go and read what Wall Street Journal editorial board member Jason Riley had to say…

…Holder was there as part of President Barack Obama’s efforts to play “race-healer-in-chief.”

“These looters and rioters do not need to hear from the attorney general that criticism of Obama is race-based,” Riley told host Bret Bauer. “What they need to hear from this Black man in this position — the nation’s leading law enforcement official — is that they need to stay out of trouble with the law. They need to pull up their pants and finish school and take care of their kids. That is the message they need to hear.”

Riley is African-American, and he is not the only black man who is making outrageous statements like this. Check this out, – Tea Party Leader: Black ‘Thugs’ Do Not Deserve Due Process (VIDEO)

Then you have reaction to the statement made by Missouri Gov. Nixon, from John Marshall at TPM: Is That an Editing Error?

I want to be very clear on the point I’m about to make so that I’m not misunderstood. Gov. Nixon of Missouri put out a statement this evening on the situation in Ferguson. Much of it is boilerplate that wouldn’t surprise or inspire you. (I’m reprinting it in its entirety at the end of this post.) The gist is that to move forward peace needs to be restored in Ferguson and there needs to be justice in the case of the precipitating event – the death of Michael Brown. (There is a separate controversy over Nixon’s decision not to appoint a special prosecutor – which I think is a mistake.) But in the key line – the part two of his statement he says that “a vigorous prosecution must now be pursued.”

Now, let me be clear. This is not remotely to suggest that the facts will not show that a prosecution is in order. Based on what we know publicly, it seems very likely that there should be. But let’s not let the justified outrage at what’s transpired obscure a simple fact. There’s a great deal we in the public do not know about what happened. This goes without saying. There will be sworn witness statements, forensic evidence about Brown and Wilson and a lot else. Indeed, it’s one of the significant problems in this saga that so little information has been released. But there’s a process: a full investigation and then a decision by a prosecutor. That hasn’t happened yet.

It’s an entirely different matter for members of the public to demand a prosecution. But this is the Governor of the state, the elected official who has ultimate responsibility for carrying out the laws of the state. It’s simply crazy for him to be saying there has to be a prosecution. It’s so inappropriate that I think it’s highly likely that this is actually an editing error – or someone doing the writing who just didn’t grasp the significance of the word choice.

But even if that’s the case, the principle is so basic and important that it’s important to note: the Governor shouldn’t be publicly assuming that Wilson must be prosecuted or that a prosecution must happen for justice to be served.

BTW, Getty released a statement as well…regarding their photojournalist who was arrested Monday night. Statement from Pancho Bernasconi, VP, News, on the arrest of Getty Images staff photographer Scott Olson in Ferguson | Getty Images Press Room | Latest company news, media announcements and information

We at Getty Images stand firmly behind our colleague Scott Olson and the right to report from Ferguson. Getty Images is working to secure his release as soon as possible.  

We strongly object to his arrest and are committed to ensuring he is able to resume his important work of capturing some of the most iconic images of this news story.

Now we get to the other stories making news that touch on the subject of this post. Hate.

Read the rest of this entry »


Sunday Reads: Light one up and make sure you inhale that full bodied “respiratory presence.”

Smoking Santa...who would want to light up after a long night delivering gifts, right?

Smoking Santa…who would want to light up after a long night delivering gifts, right?

Good Morning

Journalism, is this what it has come to?

Right-Wing Publication’s Outrageous Cigarette Review Sounds Just Like Tobacco Industry Talking Points

The right-leaning  Daily Caller recently launched an outrageous editorial series by author Patrick Howley. “Cigarette Reviews for the Uninitiated: 18 Brands in 18 Weeks” reads like a parody of tobacco industry talking points, or some pundit idea of an end-of-year joke column. But on close inspection, it appears to be quite real. The expressed purpose of the series is stated clearly: “It is our hope that the research conducted herein by official TheDC cigarette critic Patrick Howley will inform and educate the public, as well as aid tobacco companies in their forthcoming product designs.”

Can you believe it?

Thanks to the Daily Caller, this advertising doesn’t always need to be paid for. Here is Howley’s surprisingly similar description of Marlboro Red.

“We were all American men, with one shared set of values and one clear international enemy” … “the full thickness of the product” … “its macho reputation” … “this moment is most satisfactory, providing a warmth and respiratory presence so lacking from other cigarettes” …. “a thick and thorough brand, to be sure, but very pedestrian in its goals.”

Please, someone tell me it is a joke.

There is something nostalgic with the phrases Howley uses, makes me think of those smoking scenes in the movie All the President’s Men.

[after seeing Carl Bernstein light up a cigarette in an elevator]
Bob Woodward: Is there any place you *don’t* smoke?

There is something about smoking a cigarette while typing away on the typewriter keys…a bit old-fashioned these days. With text messages and twitter statuses in under 140 characters, some things are becoming obsolete.  Think about it, something as simple as paper documents…which brings me to this next link I have to share with you today also touches on those newspaper men working at the Washington Post:  Noting the History of the Paper Trail

Bob Peterson/Time Life Pictures, via Getty Images

Before the digital revolution, high stacks of office documents were common. They still are.

…Lisa Gitelman, a professor of English and media studies at New York University, there’s at least one aspect of Daniel Ellsberg’s leaking of top-secret Defense Department documents that scholars have failed to consider adequately: the Xerox technology that allowed him to copy them in the first place.

Actually, make that “copy and recopy.” In a chapter of her book in progress about the history of documents Ms. Gitelman describes the way Mr. Ellsberg obsessively made copies of his copies, even enlisting the help of his children in what she describes as an act of radical self-publishing.

“Even though we think of copying now as perfunctorily ripping something off, he was expressing himself by Xeroxing,” she said.

Gitelman is one of the historians of late that are practicing “paperwork studies.”

Ms. Gitelman’s argument may seem like an odd lens on familiar history. But it’s representative of an emerging body of work that might be called “paperwork studies.” True, there are not yet any dedicated journals or conferences. But in history, anthropology, literature and media studies departments and beyond, a group of loosely connected scholars are taking a fresh look at office memos, government documents and corporate records, not just for what they say but also for how they circulate and the sometimes unpredictable things they do.

There is a new book out called “The Demon of Writing” written by Ben Kafka, who has become an expert on “paperwork studies.” Be sure to read the rest of the story at that New York Times Book Review link above.

I love researching the old-fashioned way, it is an art form…at least I think so. Hours spent in libraries, sitting down on well-worn carpets, surrounded by stacks of musty books…how wonderful!

But I guess there are some advantages to technology in the classroom. High-tech classrooms in Australia reviving Aboriginal languages

In a high-school classroom in western Sydney, teacher Noeleen Lumby is asking her pupils to recall the Aboriginal name for animals that indigenous Wiradjuri people have used for hundreds of years.

As she holds up stuffed toys representing some of Australia’s native wildlife, including a kangaroo, an emu and a cockatoo, the class of about 25 — many from Vietnamese and Cambodian backgrounds — come to grips with the ancient tongue.

“I like this because you get to learn new skills and you can speak some indigenous language,” said 12-year-old Tien Nguyen.

Lumby, who oversees the students as they use their new knowledge to create projects on computers and iPads, is passionate about filling a gaping hole in Australian education — the study of Aboriginal languages.

Lumby feels it is best for students to learn Aboriginal culture as well as the language, I think it is marvelous. Lessons we should be taking note of here in this country. But then, obsolete languages along with musty books are things students today don’t appreciate. (I speak from first hand experience…both my kids are allergic to books and reading. Sad isn’t it?)

On to another article, this one is about movie making…and one of my favorite pictures that was released in 1980. From Vanity Fair: Making Blues Brothers With John Belushi and Dan Akroyd—“We Had a Budget for Cocaine” Written by Ned Zeman and Photos by Annie Leibovitz.

The pitch was simple: “John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Blues Brothers, how about it?” But the film The Blues Brothers became a nightmare for Universal Pictures, wildly off schedule and over budget, its fate hanging on the amount of cocaine Belushi consumed. From the 1973 meeting of two young comic geniuses in a Toronto bar through the careening, madcap production of John Landis’s 1980 movie, Ned Zeman chronicles the triumph of an obsession.

Enjoy that article, it is a long one.

Sigh, now I will give you some links to news stories that are trending this weekend.

BB sent me this link last night, so…another Hindu is mistaken for a muslim: Woman Is Held in Death of Man Pushed Onto Subway Tracks in Queens

Police are charging her with second-degree murder as a hate crime.

A woman has been arrested in connection to the ambush killing of two firefighters in Webster, NY. New York woman arrested in connection with murder of 2 firefighters

Frank Luntz is now a consultant for CBS News, GOP Pollster Frank Luntz: ‘I Don’t Think The NRA Is Listening’ To Americans’ Gun Violence Concerns

Latest on the cliff of doom: Congress leaders huddle in quest for ‘fiscal cliff’ compromise

India’s gang rape victim goes home:

Body of India rape victim arrives home in New Delhi

India’s ‘Two-Finger’ Test for Rape Needs to End, Experts Say

Indian women have made it to the tops of their professions in India. There’s been a female Indian president, women run multi-billion-dollar enterprises and Sonia Gandhi, president of the Congress party, is the most powerful politician in the country.

But on the peripheries of big cities and rural areas of the nation, women continue to fight for equal rights – and this is reflected in how authorities treat rape victims, human-rights groups say.

Human Rights Watch, in a report released Sunday in India, points to the so-called “two-finger test” as evidence of how India had failed to take rape seriously, often blaming women’s behavior for the offense.

In the test, which appears in Indian jurisprudence textbooks and is admissible in court, a doctor inserts two fingers into a women’s vagina to determine its laxity and whether the hymen is broken, signaling previous sexual activity.

The test perpetuates stereotypes of rape survivors as loose women and often is used by defense counsels to achieve acquittals, human-rights groups say.

Awful! I have avoided writing about this horrid case of gang rape and murder.

And here is the latest news out of Newtown: Claim seeks $100 million for child survivor of Connecticut school shooting

Now, just a few video clips of people lighting one up, or in the case of this first clip…lighting two up.

While watching Now Voyager with Bette Davis last night, I thought it is fabulous, those clothes…and those eyebrows on Davis when she is the dowdy spinster aunt.

No other cigarette smoking scene in history is as fabulous as this, except for maybe this one from To Have or Have Not:

Hey, speaking of Blues Brothers, fix the cigarette lighter:

No lighter? How about striking a match like Walter Neff in Double Indemnity:

…or the way De Niro takes a long drag in the film Goodfellas…

A few other scenes are mentioned in this 2005 article from The Guardian: I smoke, therefore I am

Can you think of any good movies without smoking in them? …If you discount historical films such as Barry Lyndon or Ben-Hur, a diet of non-smoking films would be almost unwatchable. But what would be most tragically lost are the great black-and-white smoking films of the 1940s – Casablanca, Now, Voyager, The Big Sleep – where wreaths of smoke are an essential and beautiful part of the cinematography, and where smoking quite clearly stands for sex. The Big Sleep (1946) opens with a title shot of two cigarettes smouldering in an ashtray that suggests more strongly than flesh scenes ever could that Bogart and Bacall are having an affair. And we learn a lot about the intimacy between Paul Henreid and Bette Davis in Now, Voyager from his habit of lighting two cigarettes at once and handing one to her. Cigarettes in movies are about far more than just whether the characters happen to have a nicotine addiction.

A-ha, starting and finishing this post with two articles on cigarettes…Journalism, there you are!

It is the last Sunday of the year, enjoy it and let us know what you are thinking about today…


Mississippi Youths Plead Guilty to 2011 Hate Crimes

James Craig Anderson

Last summer I wrote about a “shocking hate crime” committed by 18-year-old Deryl Dedmon and some friends in Jackson, Mississippi in the early hours of June 26, 2011. At the time, I likened the crime to the murder of Medgar Evers, who had been shot and killed by a white man in Jackson, Mississippi on June 23, 1963. At the time I wrote the post, Deryl Dedmon and one other boy, John A. Rice, had been arrested, but the charges against Rice had been reduced to simple assault and he had been released.

The teenagers, who were from Brandon, Mississippi, had been partying all night; and at the instigation of Dedmon, they drove to Jackson, Mississippi in search of a black man to harrass.

In a parking lot on the western side of town they found their victim.

James Craig Anderson, a 49-year-old auto plant worker, was standing in a parking lot, near his car. The teens allegedly beat Anderson repeatedly, yelled racial epithets, including “White Power!” according to witnesses.

Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith says a group of the teens then climbed into their large Ford F250 green pickup truck, floored the gas, and drove the truck right over Anderson, killing him instantly.

A video camera captured the attack and subsequent murder, making the arrests possible.

Last October, CNN published an in-depth report on the case based on interviews with Brandon residents who knew the boys.

Parents and students who knew Dedmon tell CNN it was widely known that he expressed a hatred for blacks, white people who had black friends, and anyone he thought was gay. And they say he had a history of harassing teens at his high school.

CNN has learned that Department of Justice investigators have uncovered two other possible incidents where groups of white Rankin County teens, including Dedmon, have sought out and attacked a black person.

Dedmon and his friends bullied another local boy because he had black friends.

Jordan Richardson, 17, says he was bullied, beaten and harassed by Dedmon and his friends two years ago, partly because he had black friends.

“He had a look of no conscience,” Jordan said about Dedmon. “When we would get into our altercations … there was never any show of emotion or anything — anything. Deryl always, I think, just carried around this backpack of hatred.”

After numerous run-ins at school, Jordan’s father called police after a particularly violent confrontation, and the police separated the boys.

“It was very tough on my son,” said Brian Richardson, a pastor in Brandon. “Because he knew – and I had told Jordan for a year and a half, that Deryl Dedmon will kill you.”

Brian Richardson said that Dedmon and the gang of boys he hung out with constantly used the “n” word and were known to be violent. A friend of his son Jordan had also been harrassed by Dedmon.

Nevertheless, police and school officials claimed that had seen “no warning signs” and that Anderson’s murder was “an isolated incident.”

CNN learned that

Shortly after he allegedly drove the truck over Anderson, Dedmon boasted and laughed about the killing, according to testimony given by some of the teens to detectives.

“I ran that nigger over,” Dedmon allegedly said in a phone conversation to the teens in the other car. He repeated the racial language in subsequent conversations, according to the law enforcement officials.

“He was not remorseful, he was laughing, laughing about the killing,” said [District Attorney Robert Shuler] Smith.

Deryl Dedmon

Yesterday, Dedmon and two other young men, Dylan Butler, and John A. Rice pleaded guilty to in the murder of James Anderson.

In a series of court hearings orchestrated by state and federal prosecutors, Deryl Dedmon, 19, and his friends John A. Rice, 18, and Dylan Butler, 20, were charged in the morning in United States District Court in Jackson with one count each of conspiracy and one of violating Mr. Anderson’s civil rights. They pleaded guilty in the afternoon.

They face up to five years for the conspiracy charge and up to life for the hate-crime violations….On Wednesday, Mr. Dedmon admitted in state court that he drove his truck over Mr. Anderson, 47, in a motel parking lot just before dawn last June 26. He was sentenced to two life sentences without a chance for parole.

The murder, whose race-based implications were slow to surface, shot to national prominence when surveillance video surfaced. In it, Mr. Anderson could be seen stumbling and then being struck by a Ford F-250 with Mr. Dedmon at the wheel.

The newly revealed state-federal case against the young men showed that Dedmon and several of his friends had been regularly targeting vulnerable black people in Jackson for months.

U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves set sentencing for June 8 and ordered all three to be held in custody. The three are from the town of Brandon, a Jackson suburb, and were accused of going to the majority-black capital city on numerous occasions to harass or assault black people.

Prosecutor Sheldon Beer read the allegations against the three, saying they harassed or assaulted black people who they thought were homeless or intoxicated. Victims were chosen because they thought they would not tell police, authorities said….

Thomas E. Perez, the assistant attorney general for the U.S. Justice Department’s civil rights division, said: “This is really a case about a group of racist thugs who made a sport of targeting vulnerable African Americans in Jackson and attacking them without provocation simply because of the color of their skin.”

“On a number of occasions they drove around Jackson looking for African Americans to assault,” Perez said during a news conference after the hearing. “Jackson is a wonderful community, however, for these defendants they referred to Jackson as `Jafrica.’ African Americans in Jackson were subhuman to them.”

On June 26, before the murder,

Rice and Butler and others stalled Anderson until Dedmon arrived, according to allegations read in court. When Dedmon arrived, Rice punched Anderson and knocked him down. Dedmon straddled the man and beat him.

Four other people were present at the attack on Anderson. The FBI is still investigating the case, but won’t say if there will be more charged filed in the future.

At a hearing on Wednesday, Dedmon had pleaded guilty to state capital murder charges and received two life sentences. He is eligible for the death penalty, but Anderson’s family are against capital punishment, and they asked that Dedmon’s life be spared.

“We ask that you not seek the death penalty for anyone involved in James’ murder,” the letter states; the letter is signed by Barbara Anderson Young, James Craig Anderson’s sister who is in charge of, and speaks for, his estate….

“Our opposition to the death penalty is deeply rooted in our religious faith, a faith that was central in James’ life as well,” the letter states. But the family goes on to explain that there is another reason for their opposition, one that is tied to Mississippi’s racial past.

“We also oppose the death penalty because it historically has been used in Mississippi and the South primarily against people of color for killing whites,” the letter states. “Executing James’ killers will not help to balance the scales. But sparing them may help to spark a dialogue that one day will lead to the elimination of capital punishment.” [….]

“Those responsible for James’ death not only ended the life of a talented and wonderful man. They also caused our family unspeakable pain and grief. But our loss will not be lessened by the state taking the life of another,” it says.

Huffington Post reports some of what was said in court by the victim’s sister, the young murderer, and Hinds County Circuit Judge Jeff Weill Sr.

Barbara Anderson:

“My brother Craig would give you the shirt off of his back. Because of my brother, James Craig Anderson, our lives were richer, with love, respect and a love of God,” she said. “We, the Anderson family, are praying for racial reconciliation not just in Mississippi but all over this land and country. We are praying for the defendant, Dedmon, and his family that they find peace.”

Daryl Dedmon:

“I am sincerely sorry. I do take full responsibility for my actions on that night. I pray for y’all’s family every day … and that God will soften your hearts to forgive me,” Dedmon said….

“I was young. I was dumb. I was ignorant … I was not raised the way that I acted that night. I was raised in a godly house. As I stand before you today, I am a changed man. I am a godly man. God has showed me to see no colors. God showed me that we are all made in the image of God so we are all based on the same thing … I do not ask y’all to forget, but I do ask y’all to forgive.”

Judge Weill:

“Your prejudice has brought shame upon you and placed a great stain on the state of Mississippi. Whatever excuse you may offer for what you have done, forget that. There’s no excuse that you can offer for the family of Mr. Anderson or to your fellow Mississippians who have to try to reconcile the horrible damage you have caused,” Weill said.

Weill recalled the 1964 killings of three civil rights workers who were murdered and buried in an earthen dam in a rural area in what became known as “Mississippi Burning.”

“All the hard work we have done to move our state forward from that earthen dam in Neshoba County to here has been stained by you. A stain that will take years to fade,” the judge said.

I find it hard to believe that Dedmon didn’t learn some of that racial hatred at home, but of course I can’t know for sure. I only hope that other potential Deryl Dedmon’s as well as potential vigilantes like George Zimmerman are paying attention to this tragic case.


Tuesday Reads: Romney Gets Women’s Health Questions in IL, Santorum Talks Brokered Convention, Manning and Tebow, and the Trayvon Martin Murder

Good Morning!!

Today is the Illinois primary, so I have a few links for you about that–even though I’m sure you’re as sick of reading about Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum as I am.

According to CNN, Romney leads Santorum by double digits as of last night.

The Caucus Blog (NYT): Before Illinois Primary, Santorum Talks of Brokered Convention

Mr. Santorum remains insistent that he and the other Republican challengers are in a position to deny Mr. Romney the 1,144 delegates he needs to claim the party’s nomination. In an appearance on CBS’s “Early Show,” Mr. Santorum said Mr. Romney could not win.

“The convention will nominate a conservative,” Mr. Santorum said. “They will not nominate the establishment moderate candidate from Massachusetts. When we nominate moderates, when we nominate a Tweedledum versus Tweedledee, we don’t win elections.”

Asked about the odds of a brokered convention, Mr. Santorum said, “Obviously, they are increasing.”

Washington Post: On eve of Illinois primary, Mitt Romney faces tough questions about women’s issues

PEORIA, Ill. — Mitt Romney wanted to talk about the economy, but Bradley University had other ideas.

The Republican presidential front-runner faced tough questions about his opposition to Planned Parenthood and mandatory birth control coverage as he met with students Monday night.

CNN (with video): Romney can’t escape birth control questions in Illinois

After Romney riffed for about 20 minutes on President Barack Obama’s management of the economy, he solicited questions from the large student-heavy audience.

As the first questioner made apparent, these voters were not pre-screened.

“So you’re all for like, yay, freedom, and all this stuff,” said the first woman to approach a microphone. “And yay, like pursuit of happiness. You know what would make me happy? Free birth control.”

….

“You know, let me tell you, no no, look, look let me tell you something,” he said, waiting for the crowd noise died down. “If you’re looking for free stuff you don’t have to pay for? Vote for the other guy, that’s what he’s all about, okay? That’s not, that’s not what I’m about.”

Romney also told the students that he would end government funding for Planned Parenthood and he didn’t know or care where women could go for health care after he ends the funding. What a guy.

Washington Post Politics: Romney, Santorum each claim conservative mantle before Illinois primary

On the eve of the hotly contested Illinois primary, each of the leading Republican presidential candidates drew inspiration from touchstones of conservatism on Monday and offered himself as the standard-bearer for the right’s fight against President Obama.

Mitt Romney traveled to the urban campus where Obama once taught constitutional law to lecture the president on the principle of economic freedom, paying homage to the University of Chicago’s legacy as the intellectual center of free-market economics.

A hundred miles west in Dixon, Rick Santorum tried to channel the spirit and vision of Ronald Reagan during a stop in the former president’s boyhood hometown, hoping to give his insurgent campaign a last-minute infusion of energy.

As they journeyed across Illinois, Romney and Santorum each cast himself as the rightful heir to Reagan’s conservative mantle…

As we’ve all noted previously, if Ronald Reagan ran today, he wouldn’t be nominated. He wasn’t anywhere near as far right as today’s Republicans.

In sports news, the Peyton Manning sweepstakes is over. Manning is going to the Denver Broncos, and Xtian fundamentalist weirdo Tim Tebow may be traded.

Unfortunately, Jim Clayton of ESPN started a rumor that the New England Patriots might want Tebow. I don’t know if I could take that. I don’t really think Tebow’s super-pious act would go over that well in Foxborough. I haven’t seen any of the Patriots players kneeling down and praising Jesus before games and after scoring. Ugh!

Dakinikat and I both wrote about the Trayvon Martin case yesterday, and I have a few more links on that.

First, Connie posted a link to this very informative Mother Jones article yesterday: The Trayvon Martin Killing, Explained. If you haven’t heard the 911 calls, the audio from all of them is posted in the piece. Florida’s “Stand Your Ground Law,” which gives very broad interpretations to “self-defense” is explained in the MJ article. Here’s a bit of it:

In 1987, then-Gov. Bob Martinez (R) signed Florida’s concealed-carry provision into law, which “liberalized the restrictions that previously hindered the citizens of Florida from obtaining concealed weapons permits,” according to one legal analyst. This trendsetting “shall-issue” statute triggered a wave of gun-carry laws in other states. (Critics said at the time that Florida would become “Dodge City.”) Permit holders are also exempted from the mandatory state waiting period on handgun purchases.

Even though felons and other violent offenders are barred from getting a weapons permit, a 2007 investigation by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel found that licenses had been mistakenly issued to 1,400 felons and hundreds more applicants with warrants, domestic abuse injunctions, or gun violations. (More than 410,000 Floridians have been issued concealed weapons permits.) Since then, Florida also passed a law permitting residents to keep guns in their cars at work, against employers’ wishes. The state also nearly allowed guns on college campuses last year, until an influential Republican lawmaker fought the bill after his close friend’s daughter was killed by an AK-47 brandished at a Florida State University fraternity party.

Florida also makes it easy to plead self-defense in a killing. Under then-Gov. Jeb Bush, the state in 2005 passed a broad “stand your ground” law, which allows Florida residents to use deadly force against a threat without attempting to back down from the situation. (More stringent self-defense laws state that gun owners have “a duty to retreat” before resorting to killing.)

The Florida courts have upheld the law and issued some truly shocking findings.

This has led to some stunning verdicts in the state. In Tallahassee in 2008, two rival gangs engaged in a neighborhood shootout, and a 15-year-old African American male was killed in the crossfire. The three defendants all either were acquitted or had their cases dismissed, because the defense successfully argued they were defending themselves under the “stand your ground” law. The state attorney in Tallahassee, Willie Meggs, was beside himself. “Basically this law has put us in the posture that our citizens can go out into the streets and have a gun fight and the dead person is buried and the survivor of the gun fight is immune from prosecution,” he said at the time.

One of those defendants ended up receiving a conviction for attempted voluntary manslaughter for an unrelated case, in which he shot indiscriminately at two people in a car.

The only hope Trayvon Martin’s family may have is for the U.S. Justice Department to step in and investigate the shooting as a hate crime. And I just saw the news breaking on Twitter that the U.S. Justice Department and the FBI have opened an investigation into the Trayvon Martin case.

Here are a couple of articles about the Florida “Stand Your Ground” law and its impact on the courts.

Miami Herald: Florida’s self-defense law could hamper efforts to prosecute Trayvon Martin shooter

Slate: Why Trayvon Martin’s Killer Remains Free: “Florida’s self-defense laws have left Florida safe for no one—except those who shoot first.”

Boy am I glad Massachusetts has tough gun laws! Florida college students held a rally yesterday in Sanford, FL, the Orlando suburb where the shooting took place.

College students around Florida are rallying Monday to demand the arrest of a neighborhood watch captain who fatally shot unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin.

Students rallied in front of the Seminole County criminal courts building in Sanford – the central Florida city where the shooting occurred – and on the campus of Florida A&M University in Tallahassee.

In the courts building is the State Attorney’s Office, where prosecutors will review the case and decide whether to file criminal charges against George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who killed Martin on Feb. 26.

Demonstrators are demanding the arrest of the 28-year-old Zimmerman, who authorities say shot the teenager during a confrontation in a gated community. Zimmerman has claimed self-defense; Florida law allows a person to use deadly force if the person believes he or she is facing a deadly threat.

The problem is that Zimmerman actually pursued Martin and had the boy pinned face down on the ground when he pulled the trigger. He wasn’t “standing his ground.” He initiated a confrontation with a boy who weighed 140 pounds, nearly 100 pounds less than Zimmerman.

Just a couple more links.

Al Sharpton at HuffPo announcing his rally in Sanford on Thursday.

On Thursday, March 22 at 7 p.m., National Action Network (NAN) and I will convene an urgent rally at the First Shiloh Baptist Church in Sanford, FL. to demand justice for Trayvon Martin. We will be joined by community leaders and concerned citizens from all ethnicities, backgrounds and walks of life that cannot even begin to comprehend this nightmarish situation. A young teenager walking home, armed only with candy and a drink, should never lose his/her life because someone in a gated community feels ‘threatened.’ George Zimmerman, the accused adult shooter, is roaming the earth freely while Trayvon’s mother, father and family members must bury their precious child. It is an atrocious miscarriage of justice, and we demand that authorities in Florida arrest Zimmerman immediately and charge him for the crime of murder. Anyone with sound reasoning cannot disagree.

Sharpton goes on to discuss the “Stand Your Ground Laws” and why they shouldn’t apply to what Zimmerman did. To me, the 911 calls are evidence that Zimmerman was the aggressor. At least five individuals saw the altercation and heard Trayvon’s screams for help while George Zimmerman lay on top of him.

At the Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates pulls a quote from the Miami Herald story I linked earlier:

“We are taking a beating over this,” said [Bill] Lee, who defends the investigation. “This is all very unsettling. I’m sure if George Zimmerman had the opportunity to relive Sunday, Feb. 26, he’d probably do things differently. I’m sure Trayvon would, too.”

Bill Lee is the Sanford police chief who let George Zimmerman go free without even taking a drug and alcohol text. He thinks Trayvon should have done things differently. What does that mean? That it was wrong for this boy to go to the corner store for some candy and a bottle of iced tea? There’s more about Zimmerman’s attitudes at the link.

I’ll end with this: What bothers me most is that Trayvon’s body was taken to the morgue as an unidentified person. The body was held there for three days, supposedly because the boy had no ID. But I learned last night that Trayvon had his cell phone with him. The boy’s father was calling the cell phone, and there certainly should have been a way to identify the boy from that phone. Why couldn’t they call the last number called? Why didn’t the police go door to door in the neighborhood and try to find out who the boy was? Surely that alone is evidence of profiling. The assumption was that the boy didn’t come from that neighborhood.

That’s it for me for today. What are you reading and blogging about?