Thursday Reads: The Boston Yeti, A Zombie Cat, and Other News

Yeti2

 Good Morning!!

The good news in my world is that a very nice man who lives across the street from me volunteered to shovel my car out yesterday. I had managed to clear my front porch steps and sidewalk, but I never could have finished the driveway by myself. I would have had to keep shoveling today. The bad news is that more snow is expected tonight and there’s a possibility of another big storm on Monday. But for today, I’m happy that I don’t have to shovel and I can get to the store and stock up on supplies before the next onslaught.

I’m a little bit punch drunk from the Blizzard of 2015 (which definitely wasn’t a “bust” in Massachusetts), so I hope you’ll forgive me for beginning with some lightweight stories today.

Did you hear about the Boston Yeti? As the blizzard ramped up on Tuesday night, the Associated Press reported sightings of a strange creature wandering around town, enjoying the snow.

BOSTON (AP) — The monster storm in Boston has brought with it another monster – a yeti.

The white, furry phantom has been getting laughs by walking through the blizzard in a sasquatch suit.

One was spotted in downtown Copley Square. Another was sighted trying to hail a cab in suburban Somerville.

New England Cable News reporter Tony Sabato tweeted a photo of the not-so-elusive creature. Above a snapshot of the yeti looking rather pensive, he wrote, “Found the yeti in the blizzard at Copley Square in Boston.”

From The Boston Globe: Boston Yeti on the loose during storm.

While the identity of the Boston Yeti remains unknown, the user behind this Twitter account appears to have created it on Monday ahead of the storm, amassing more than 4,700 followers by Tuesday evening. The hashtag#BostonYeti2015 took on a social life of its own as Twitter users reacted to Boston’s surprise monster of the storm.

With all of the city’s instructions to stay off the roads, the Boston Yeti didn’t appear to listen, at least in Somerville during the start of Juno. But this abominable snowman did seem to want fellow Bostonians to be careful, telling folks on Twitter that “BostonYeti2015 loves the snow, but wants everyone to be safe.”

Here’s one sighting of the Boston Yeti:

Who was this mysterious snow-lover who even showed up on Twitter? His identity has not yet been revealed, but Boston Magazine got an interview with him.  An except:

Where were you hiding before it started to snow?

Here and there. The woods, mainly.

What have you done in Boston since emerging?

Waving to kids, bustling through the snow showers. Trying to make as many people smile as possible….

Have you eaten anyone’s cat? We know you need nourishment.

I’m a vegan.

Have you shoveled at all for anyone?

Yes, two separate families that needed an extra claw…I mean, hand. They promised not to take my photo if I shoveled. I was more than happy to help….

What do you say to the people who think you’re nothing but a guy in a costume walking around? You know, the non-believers.

People will believe whatever they want. I know my existence has been debated for decades. In some ways it’s fun to think some don’t believe. All I can say is that I’m very real and love everyone—even those non-believers.

Okay, it’s a corny story, but anything that can make people laugh during a giant storm is a good thing in my mind. Those of us living inland need to keep in mind that for people along the coast this storm was no joke. Here’s just one scene of coastal flooding in the South Shore town of Scituate.

Winter Weather

Now another strange but heartwarming story from Tampa, Florida: the tale of a zombie cat. CNN reports: ‘Zombie cat’ presumed dead found alive five days after burial.

Bart, or “zombie cat” as the feline is now being referred to on social media, was discovered “unresponsive” by his owner last week lying in a pool of blood. His body was cold and his face was severely disfigured.

“If we’d seen that cat on the road, we’d assumed he was dead,” Nash McCuthchen with the Humane Society told CNN.

Bart’s owner, Ellis Hutson, along with the help of a neighbor, buried his beloved pet in his yard.

Five days later, a different neighbor found Bart walking in her yard, after he seemingly clawed his way out of the grave.

The neighbor returned the cat to Hutson, who called the Humane Society for help.

Bart was in bad shape, McCutchen said, with maggots covering open wounds on his body, and he had difficulty walking. The cat was dehydrated, his left eye ruined.

But remarkably, McCutchen said, the kitty had no internal injuries, making the Humane Society able to treat him. Bart had surgery Wednesday to remove his left eye and wire his jaw shut.

Bart prepares for surgery.

Bart prepares for surgery.

Amazingly, Bart is expected to fully recover from his injuries, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

“He’s doing well,” said Sherry Silk, executive director of the Humane Society of Tampa Bay, which is caring for the cat after a nearly two-hour operation Tuesday.

Nash McCutchen, the organization’s marketing coordinator, said Bart will recover with rest following a blood transfusion Wednesday afternoon.

“He’s been through a lot,” said McCutchen, who said a shelter cat will be donating the blood to get Bart back up to speed.

See some video of Bart at the link.

In other, more serious, news . . .

The battle between Democrats and House Speaker John Boehner over a scheduled speech by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been ramping up over the past week. The New York Times reports that the White House has signaled its “outrage” over the unauthorized invitation issued by Republican House leaders by harshly criticizing Israel’s Ambassador, Ron Dermer, for helping to  arrange the invitation.

Today Reuters reports: Pelosi says Netanyahu speech to Congress could hurt Iran talks.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s scheduled speech to the U.S. Congress in March could damage the Obama administration’s attempts to broker a deal with Iranon nuclear weapons development, the senior U.S. House of Representatives Democrat said on Wednesday.

“Such a presentation could send the wrong message in terms of giving diplomacy a chance,” said Representative Nancy Pelosi during a news conference on the sidelines of an annual retreat for Democratic lawmakers.

But Pelosi stopped short of saying that the invitation to Netanyahu should be withdrawn by House Speaker John Boehner.

Earlier this month Boehner invited Netanyahu to speak to a joint session of the House and Senate and the speech is scheduled for March 3, just two weeks before the Israeli leader stands for re-election on March 17.

Boehner, who did not consult with the White House before extending the invitation, has defended his surprise invitation.

A spokesman for Pelosi said she spoke by telephone on Wednesday with Netanyahu, but he did not provide further details.

Pelosi

Here’s some commentary on the controversy by Jonathan Chait: Why Benjamin Netanyahu Lost His Mind.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in one of his trademark gestures of narcissistic venality, decided to set up an address to the United States Congress without notifying the executive branch of the American government. The maneuver is so unusual that Netanyahu’s former ally and ambassador to the U.S. called on him to reverse course. Even Fox Newshas questioned him. Jeffrey Goldberg attempts to understand what Netanyahu might have been thinking. “Why doesn’t Netanyahu understand that alienating Democrats is not in the best interest of his country?” he asks. “From what I can tell, he doubts that Democrats are — or will be shortly —  a natural constituency for Israel, and he clearly believes that Obama is a genuine adversary.”

Netanyahu’s behavior might be best understood as the expression of a kind of apocalypticism that has always colored right-wing Zionist thought, but which has gained force over the last dozen years or so. Right-wing Zionists have grown increasingly convinced of a series of interconnected propositions: that Israel (or the Jewish people) faces an existential threat; that opposition to Israel is a pure function of anti-Semitism and therefore cannot be mollified; and that liberal Zionists are at best useless as allies and at worst detrimental to the cause of preserving Israel from the onslaught.

One obvious cause of the Zionist right’s deepening millennialism is Iran’s quest to obtain a nuclear weapon. In comparison with other military threats to Israel, right-wing and liberal Zionists think of this development in strikingly different terms. Moderates and liberals consider a nuclearized Iran a serious strategic problem. But they also consider military options useless to stop it, and further believe that a nuclear Iran can be deterred. (Kenneth Pollack, a former Clinton aide most famous as an Iraq hawk, has made the case for the possibility of deterring Iran.) In this view, Iran’s nuclear ambitions represent a threat to be avoided, if at all possible, with sanctions and covert sabotage. Conservative Zionists see the matter much more starkly. The Iranian nuclear program is an existential threat best understood in the context of the Holocaust denialism of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Read the rest at the link.

At The Hill, Brett Budowsky sees the Netanyahu invitation as just part of “The great GOP overreach.”

hillary-clinton

While Republicans bask in the glory of their victories in 2014 and continue their hyperpartisan onslaught in the new Congress, some early numbers should keep GOP strategists awake at night.

According to a recent ABC/Washington Post poll, Hillary Clinton would defeat Jeb Bush in 2016 by 13 percentage points. She would defeat Chris Christie by 13 points, Rand Paul by 13 and Mitt Romney by 15.

According to the summary of polling from Real Clear Politics, approval of the Republican Congress is barely 15 percent. Disapproval remains near 72 percent. Control of Congress means ownership of the vast unpopularity of Congress.

Meanwhile, President Obama’s popularity has risen significantly since November. The stage is set for Clinton to begin a 2016 campaign with a significant lead over GOP opponents and run against a highly unpopular Republican Congress.

Voters see Republicans overreaching and underachieving. They see the GOP repeating ritual attacks against Obama and Clinton as though the 2014 campaign never ended. They see Republicans moving to pass political bills they know will never be enacted, such as old attacks against ObamaCare, and opposing important bills voters do want enacted, such as immigration reform. They see the GOP stage phony hearings on Benghazi that are nothing more than taxpayer-financed attacks against Hillary Clinton.

There is a GOP distemper in Washington, an overreaching of aggressive tactics against Democrats and an underachievement of success in governing. The result? Obama rises in favorability, Clinton rises against Republicans.

Head over to The Hill to read the rest.

Two stories of injustices overturned.

Marissa Alexander

Marissa Alexander

Marissa Alexander Released from Jail.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Marissa Alexander walked away from the Duval County courthouse Tuesday after a judge ruled she will not serve any additional jail time.

Judge James Daniel denied the State’s request for an additional two years of probation and ruled that Alexander will serve two years of house arrest while wearing an ankle monitor, an agreement reached in an November 2014 plea deal.

Alexander claims she fired a gun at her estranged husband, Rico Gray, in self-defense.

I thought she fired into the ceiling . . .

“Four and a half years have passed since the events of August 1, 2010, but today after the sentence imposed the Judge Daniel, my family and I will be able to move forward with out lives,” Alexander said during a meeting with the media in front of the courthouse.

“Although the journey has been long, and there have been many difficult moments, I could not have arrived here where I am today without the many thoughts and prayers of so many people who have voiced their support and encouragement,” Alexander said as she read from a prepared statement.

According to the terms of the plea, Alexander was ordered to serve three years in jail after pleading guilty to all three counts against her. Alexander will get credit for the 1,030 days she’s already spent in jail. However, the second count against Alexander is considered an ‘open plea,’ she could have been sentenced to five years in jail at the hearing.

friendship nine

‘Friendship Nine’: Convictions Overturned For Famed Civil Rights Protesters.

More than a half-century after they were arrested and sentenced to hard labor for sitting at a whites-only lunch counter in South Carolina, a group of African-American student protesters known as the “Friendship Nine” had their convictions overturned and sentences vacated Wednesday.

The moment was met with applause and a standing ovation in the court room.

Circuit Court Judge John C. Hayes III made the ruling. “We cannot rewrite history, but we can right history,” the judge said. He then signed the order, and the prosecutor apologized to the men. Hayes is the nephew of the judge who sentenced the “Friendship Nine” to jail in 1961.

All eight surviving members of the “Friendship Nine” attended the morning hearing in a municipal courtroom in Rock Hill, South Carolina. They were represented in the hearing by Ernest A. Finney Jr., the same man who defended their case 54 years ago. He went on to become the first black chief justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court since Reconstruction.

The actions of the Friendship Nine established a strategy “breathed new life into the Civil Rights Movement,” according to the article.

These reversals are too little too late, but I guess we have to be grateful for any progress in these Republican-controlled times.

I have more links, but I’ll put them in the comment thread. What stories are you following today?


Stand your ground, three cases…two arrests

Good Evening

I am going to tell you three stories, about guns…protecting yourself and standing your ground. All three scenarios are from Florida…and all three question the use of the popular GOP/ALEC backed law also known as “Stand Your Ground.”

In a little section of Hillsborough County Florida, called Valrico, David James was playing basketball with his 8–year old daughter on a community basketball court. While they played together, a skateboarder who was also on the court caught the attention of another man…Trevor Dooley, who lived across the street.

Skateboards were banned on the basketball court, yelled Dooley to the kid with the board, and James spoke up to defend the skateboarder…where was the sign stating kids were not allowed to skate?

Dooley and James got into an argument that turned violent, and Dooley, who had a concealed gun permit, took his gun and shot James.

Dooley was arrested and charged with manslaughter.

In Jacksonville, Florida, a woman who had documented proof of past physical abuse from her husband, was in yet another situation where an argument between her and her husband made her feel threatened. Marissa Alexander, in the process of leaving the house where the altercation was taking place,  realized when she got into the car that she forgot her keys. She took her gun and went back into the house where her husband and two sons where also leaving the house. Alexander took the gun and fired a warning shot to keep her husband from coming forward and attacking her.

She was arrested and charged with three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

And in yet another part of Florida, this time in a town called Sanford, an unarmed young black teenager was walking home from a 7 Eleven….you all know the rest of that story.

All three situations invoked the “Stand your Ground” defense. Only two resulted in immediate arrest of the shooter.

We have talked extensively about the case of Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman, a situation where a boy was killed, shot point-blank in the chest by a man who was never arrested and charged with a crime. That is until public outcry brought about an investigation by the states attorney’s office.

Just last week, Marissa Alexander was convicted of aggravated assault, and sentenced to 20 years in prison. The jury took only 12 minutes to return that verdict of guilty.

Just today, a judge has denied the motion from Dooley’s attorney regarding the use of the “stand your ground” law in his defense.

The point of this post is not to debate the guilt of each of these people who used a gun, in what they describe as necessary force against a life threatening altercation.

We discussed the lack of arrest in the Trayvon Martin murder, and our outcry was against a police department and district attorney who obviously “neglected” to charge George Zimmerman with any sort of crime.

Here then are two examples of a case where in similar circumstances, an arrest was made and charges were immediately brought against the suspect.

Dooley and Alexander both are African-American. Zimmerman is a white Hispanic.

All three are proof of an undeniable bias in the criminal system…and that is exactly what brought about my protest against this “system” that let Zimmerman go free, while his victim lay dead in the morgue.

For more information on the cases I described above:

Child terrified to testify near man accused of killing father | Crime | Brandon-Valrico-Seffner News

‘Stand Your Ground’ defense denied for Trevor Dooley in 2010 death of David James in Valrico

Stand Your Ground denied for Trevor Dooley, the man accused of killing Valrico father, David James | wtsp.com

Marissa Alexander, Florida Mom, Faces Mandatory 20 Years In Prison After Failed Stand-Your-Ground Defense (UPDATE)

Florida woman sentenced to 20 years in controversial warning shot case – CNN.com

Shame of mandatory minimums shows in Marissa Alexander case – CNN.com

Corey: Jax Woman Shot in Anger, Not Fear, She’ll Get 20 Years

Another Fla. shooting could take center stage in House floor debate – The Hill’s Floor Action

George Zimmerman comparison? Woman gets 20 years for warning shot – latimes.com