Thursday Reads

judgegavel

Good Morning!!

There’s been quite a bit of legal and courthouse news this week, so I’m going to focus on that today.

Yesterday was a big day at the Boston Federal Courthouse as the Whitey Bulger trial was briefly eclipsed by the first court appearance of Boston Bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. From The Boston Globe:

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev shuffled into the courtroom, appearing confident despite the ankle chains and an orange jumpsuit so big on him that it made him appear younger than his 19 years.

As federal prosecutors read the charges against him Wednesday in his first appearance since being captured in April, Tsarnaev repeatedly looked over his shoulder at the packed courtroom, at one point blowing a kiss to his sisters, one sobbing and another holding a baby.

He leaned into the microphone in the hushed courtroom to tell Judge Marianne B. Bowler with an accent that he pleaded not guilty to 30 charges, including use of weapons of mass destruction. More than 30 victims of the Marathon bombings and about a dozen supporters who say they believe Tsarnaev is innocent watched intently as the accused terrorist yawned and stroked the side of his face, which appeared swollen from a wound.

Tsarnaev, who could receive the death penalty, fidgeted in his seat as he listened to the charges, one of his attorneys patting him on the back gently several times. He had a visible scar just below his throat and had a cast on his left arm.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

ABC News talked to survivors of the April 15 bombings who showed up to watch Tsarnaev’s court appearance.

Friends and family members of people whose lives were shattered when two homemade bombs went off near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15 packed three rooms in a federal courthouse on Wednesday as suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev pleaded not guilty to a 30-count indictment.

But the fleeting courtroom encounter brought little relief to Bostonians who said the 19-year-old —accused of conducting the deadly bombings with the help of his older brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev —showed little feeling.

“He came out and he smirked at the families,” said Ed Fucarile, 64, outside of the John Joseph Moakley federal courthouse along the water in South Boston. “The lawyers put their hands on his shoulders like it was going to be all right.”

Fucarile wore a Boston Strong t-shirt with the name of Marc Fucarile, his son who lost his right leg and still carries shrapnel in his body, the father said.

Marc Fucarile, 34, was standing near the second blast when it went off. He still has more surgeries to go, and has spent every day of the nearly three months since receiving medical care, his father said. Members of the family have taken weeks off work so that someone is always at Marc’s bedside, he said.

Read more survivors’ stories at the link.

Bulger defense team: J.W. Carney Jr. and Hank Brennan

Bulger defense team: J.W. Carney Jr. and Hank Brennan

At the Whitey Bulger trial, there was a bit of comic relief as Bulger flew into a rage toward the end of testimony and exchanged curses with his former close friend and partner Kevin Weeks. It was reminiscent of a scene from Sopranos.

Bulger’s lawyer, J.W. Carney, tried to portray Weeks as an opportunist who knew how to manipulate the system, someone who cut a deal with prosecutors to serve just five years in prison for aiding and abetting five killings, several of which, Weeks testified, he saw Bulger commit.

“You won against the system,” said Carney.

“What did I win? What did I win,” Weeks said, his voice sounding strained and tired. “Five people are dead.”

Asked whether that bothered him, Weeks shot back, “We killed people that were rats, and I had the two biggest rats right next to me …”

At that, Bulger turned and hissed, “You suck.”

“F— you, OK,” snapped Weeks.

“F— you, too,” shouted Bulger as the jury watched.

“What do you want to do?” said Weeks, his eyes locked on Bulger, who was flushed and staring right back.

At one point Weeks even threatened Carney, asking him if he’d like to step outside.

Weeks grew belligerent and threatening as Carney accused him of lying, challenged his motivation for cooperating, and suggested that Weeks, not Bulger, was a rat.

“You can’t rat on a rat,” said Weeks, adding that he lives in South Boston and walks the streets without being called a rat.

When Carney asked Weeks what he would do if someone did call him a rat, Weeks snapped that if he stepped outside the courthouse he’d show him.

James Bulger and Kevin Weeks

James Bulger and Kevin Weeks

Yesterday the testimony was even more grotesque and sickening, as forensic expert Ann Marie Mires testified about remains of murder victims Arthur Barrett, Deborah Hussey, John McIntyre, and Paul J. McGonagle. I’ll spare you the descriptions; you can go to the links and read more if you’re interested.

This morning  Carney asked the judge for a break in the testimony so the defense team could catch up.

The defense team for James “Whitey” Bulger is asking the judge to suspend testimony until next week so they can catch up on evidence.

Defense attorney J.W. Carney filed the motion with the court on Thursday.

“Simply put, the defendant’s counsel have hit a wall, and are unable to proceed further without additional time to prepare for upcoming witnesses,” the motion reads. “Counsel have struggled mightily to be ready for each day of the trial since it began on June 3, 2013, working seven days a week and extraordinarily long hours.” [….]

“A major problem has been the delay in the receipt of discovery from the prosecution,” the motion reads, citing examples of receiving binders of documents pertaining to testimony to be given by witnesses the evening before they take the stand.

Yesterday defense teams rested in both the Bradley Manning and the George Zimmerman trials.

From the Guardian via Raw Story: Bradley Manning defense rests its case after calling just 10 witnesses

130710-manning-hmed-418p.photoblog600

Having called just 10 witnesses over the space of three days, the defence phase of the trial was brought to a close far quicker than expected. The defence had indicated in earlier hearings that it intended to call more than 40 witnesses, although many may yet still be presented in court during the post-verdict sentencing stage of the court martial.

By contrast, the prosecution took 14 days to make its case, drawing on 80 witnesses.

On Wednesday, the defence team lead by the civilian lawyer David Coombs, focused its attentions on the most serious charge facing the Army private – that he “aided the enemy” by transmitting information to WikiLeaks knowing that it would be accessible to enemy groups notably al-Qaida. Manning faces a possible sentence of life in military custody with no chance of parole under this single charge.

The final defence witness called, the Harvard law professor Yochai Benkler, delivered blistering testimony in which he portrayed WikiLeaks as a legitimate web-based journalistic organisation. He also warned the judge presiding in the case, Colonel Denise Lind, that if the “aiding the enemy” charge was interpreted broadly to suggest that handing information to a website that could be read by anyone with access to the internet was the equivalent of handing to the enemy, then that serious criminal accusation could be levelled against all media outlets that published on the web.

Prosecutor John Guy with dummy

Prosecutor John Guy with dummy

Yesterday was quite a theatrical one in the Zimmerman trial, as a mannequin was brought into court and both a prosecutor and defense attorney Mark O’Mara got down on the floor and straddled the dummy in effort to act out what might have happened during an alleged altercation between Zimmerman and his victim Trayvon Martin.

As professional images go, what followed in the courtroom was probably not something for which Mark O’Mara would most like to be remembered.

Hitching up his pant legs and straddling a life-size human mannequin, Zimmerman’s lead defense counsel got down and dirty on the courtroom floor and proceeded to demonstrate for jurors the “ground and pound” move that they have been told Martin exerted on the accused.

Coming a day after he encouraged one of his witnesses, gym owner and mixed martial arts trainer Adam Pollack, to “step down from the stand to give me an example of a mounted position,” prostrating himself on the floor and asking Pollack, “Where do you want me?” the episode made for an awkward role play, leaving court observers snickering and biting their lips in the midst of an otherwise tragic plot.

Earlier in the day, prosecutor John Guy—described by one public observer in the courtroom on the trial’s opening day as “the supermodel of attorneys”—had also hopped on the mannequin for a similar demonstration in front of the all-female jury.

Don West and George Zimmerman

Don West and George Zimmerman

Later Judge Debra Nelson had a “testy exchange” with defense attorney Don West as she asked Zimmerman whether he planned to take the stand. Zimmerman seemed unsure, and West tried to step in.

West repeatedly challenged Nelson’s decision to press Zimmerman for a clear answer. The judge repeatedly slapped him down, her voice gathering volume every time.

“The court is entitled to ask Mr. Zimmerman about his determination as to whether he wants to testify,” Nelson insisted tersely after West objected to her line of questioning.

She looked back at Zimmerman: “How long do you think you need before you make that decision?” she inquired again, as the defendant—who had a minute earlier been made to raise his hand and swear under oath that any decision whether to testify would be his—turned to his counsel for help.

“I object to the court inquiring of Zimmerman about his intention to testify,” West whimpered for a second time.

“I object to the court inquiring of Zimmerman about his intention to testify,” West whimpered for a second time.

“And I have O-VER-RULED” Judge Nelson spat back—several times—as the objections kept coming.

Finally Zimmerman haltingly said he did not want to testify. I think he actually wanted to–if only. What a disaster that would have been for his attorneys! Closing arguments are scheduled to begin this afternoon.

In other news, I can’t resist sharing this article from Time Magazine about what former Russian spies think is probably happening to Edward Snowden in Russia.

In the summer of 1985, KGB colonel Oleg Gordievsky was called back to Moscow from the Soviet embassy in London, where he was serving as a resident spy. As a pretext, his commanders told him that he was going to receive an award for his service. But in fact the KGB suspected him of being a double agent — which he was — and they were looking to interrogate him. So upon his arrival, his KGB colleagues, still concealing their suspicions, took him to a comfortable country estate in the suburbs of the Russian capital, much like the one where Gordievsky and other former spies believe Edward Snowden, the NSA whistle-blower, has spent the past few weeks….

The official story coming from the Russian government since then is that Snowden has been holed up in the transit zone of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport, waiting for some third country to grant him asylum. But few experts or officials in Moscow still believe that to be true. The accepted wisdom, unofficially acknowledged by most Western and Russian sources, is that Snowden was taken soon after his arrival — if not immediately — to a secure location run by some arm of the Russian government.

Putin wink

Experts and former spies who have dealt with the Russian security services are sure that agents would want to get the encryption keys to the data stored on Snowden’s four laptops. The only way to do that would be to get Snowden to give them up.

So Gordievsky believes Snowden would have gotten roughly the same treatment that the KGB spy got back in 1985. “They would have fed him something to loosen his tongue,” Gordievsky says by phone from the U.K., where he has been living in exile for nearly three decades. “Many different kinds of drugs are available, as I experienced for myself.” Having been called back to Moscow, Gordievsky says his KGB comrades drugged him with a substance that “turned out his lights” and made him “start talking in a very animated way.” Although the drug wiped out most of his memory of the incident, the parts he did recollect horrified him the following morning, when he woke up feeling ill. “I realized that I had completely compromised myself,” he says.

One of the substances the KGB used for such purposes at the time was called SP-117, which is odorless, tasteless and colorless, according Alexander Kouzminov, a former Russian intelligence operative who describes the drug’s effectiveness in his book, Biological Espionage. Now living in New Zealand, Kouzminov worked in the 1980s and early 1990s for the Foreign Intelligence Service, the spy agency known as the SVR, which handles undercover agents, or “illegals,” stationed in foreign countries. In his book, Kouzminov writes that various drugs were used periodically to test these operatives for signs of disloyalty or diversion. Once the drug had worn off, the agents would have no recollection of what they had said and, if their test results were satisfactory, they could be sent back into the field as though nothing had happened.

Yesterday, Snowden announced through Glenn Greenwald that “I never gave any information to Chinese or Russian governments.”  I guess he assumes that Chinese and Russian officials don’t read The Guardian, The Washington Post, or the South China Morning Post. Anyway now it’s not clear if he would even remember if he gave them anything.

For all you Snowden and Greenwald fans out there, this information comes from an article in Time Magazine based on interviews with people who have actual experience with the ways Russia deals with spies. Don’t shoot the  messenger.

Now it’s your turn. What stories are you focused on today. Please share you links on any topic in the comment thread, and have a tremendous Thursday!


Wednesday Reads: Stand Your Ground and Race to Weed

ctF4Good Morning

The National Weather Service has upgraded the tornado that hit El Reno OK, killing three storm chasers last week, from an EF-3 to an EF-5, but that is not all…they now are reporting this Deadly Oklahoma tornado was widest on record.

The deadly tornado that struck near Oklahoma City late last week had a record-breaking width of 2.6 miles and was the second top-of-the-scale EF5 twister to hit the area in less than two weeks, the National Weather Service reported Tuesday.

[…]

The weather service determined that the storm packed winds reaching 295 mph.

It was fortunate that this tornado struck a relatively unpopulated area of El Reno.

When the winds were at their most powerful, no structures were nearby, said Rick Smith, chief warning coordination meteorologist for the weather service’s office in Norman.

“Any house would have been completely swept clean on the foundation. That’s just my speculation,” Smith said. “We’re looking at extremes … in the rare EF5 category. This in the super rare category because we don’t deal with things like this often.”

El Reno Mayor Matt White said that while his city of 18,000 residents suffered significant damage — including its vocational-technical center and a cattle stockyard that was reduced to a pile of twisted metal — he said it could have been much worse had the violent twister tracked to the north.

“If it was two more miles this way, it would have wiped out all of downtown, almost every one of our subdivisions and almost all of our businesses,” White said. “It would have taken out everything.

“It’s very scary … I don’t think a normal person can fathom just how scary. I don’t think they realize how lucky El Reno was.”

Just look at this image below from the NWS:

This graphic by the National Weather Service shows the path of an EF5 tornado that swept through the El Reno area in Oklahoma.This graphic by the National Weather Service shows the path of an EF5 tornado that swept through the El Reno area in Oklahoma.

/ National Weather Service

While Oklahoma has been dealing with storms from Mother Nature, Florida is getting ready to deal with another kind of storm…being the media frenzy lightning bolts and ominous clouds of racial tension that come with the Zimmerman trial. Earlier this month another “Stand your ground” case in Florida went to the jury, and the verdict came in. Bet you can guess what it was… Citing Stand Your Ground, Jury Acquits Man Who Killed Wife’s Lover | ThinkProgress

Ralph Wald, a 70-year-old Vietnam veteran, walked into his home around midnight, and less than ten seconds later, fired three shots at Walter Conley, according to ABC News. He told the jury he thought Conley was raping his wife when he saw them having intercourse in his home. But during a 911 call, when the dispatcher asked Wald if the man was dead, Wald responded, “I hope so!” and refused to help the man. He asked for medical help for his wife, Johnna Flores, since he thought he accidentally shot her also. He said he didn’t recognize Conley even though he had been roommates with his wife prior to her relationship with Wald, lived next door to Wald, had tattoos of Flores on his neck and back, and worked for Flores at her fencing company.

Prosecutors argued that Wald, who suffered from erectile dysfunction, killed Conley in a jealous rage, pointing out that Wald used the word “fornicate” in reports to police, and never the word “rape.”

To acquit Wald under the state’s Stand Your Ground law, Wald had to prove only that he believed his wife was being raped. It doesn’t matter that he shot immediately without taking time to assess the situation, nor that he could have likely taken other measures short of firing three shots into Conley’s head and back. Stand Your Ground laws authorize the unfettered use of deadly force where someone fears assault, without even a duty to first attempt to retreat.

Hmmmm, I’m just going to move on to my next link.

George Zimmerman Lawyer Mark O’Mara Fabricated Evidence, Martin Family Lawyer Claims (UPDATE)

With less than a week left before the Trayvon Martin trial begins, an attorney for Martin’s family now claims that George Zimmerman’s lawyer Mark O’Mara fabricated evidence in an attempt to sway both the public and the jury.

Since Zimmerman’s fatal confrontation with the 17-year-old Martin more than a year ago, both the judge and the public have been presented with an overwhelming amount of evidence during numerous court appearances and hearings. During a hearing last Tuesday, Zimmerman’s defense team claimed that they had obtained video footage of “two buddies of [Martin] beating up a homeless guy.” In a statement on Zimmerman’s website, O’Mara later apologized for mischaracterizing evidence that in fact showed two homeless men fighting over a bike.

So they post the apology on Zimmerman’s Website? Nothing in the newspapers that published all that shit about Martin video taping a homeless man being assaulted by two of his thug friends? You can read the reaction from Martin’s Family attorney at that Huffpo link, but check out the updated response from the O’Mara team:

UPDATE: Tuesday, June 4 — Mark O’Mara told HuffPost, “It was a mistake, I’ve acknowledged it, it happened and I’m sorry. I only wish that those who are so willing to condemn would be without fault first.”

“I said something wrong, and I apologize,” O’Mara added. “What they’re doing is trying to make more out of it because they have, for the past year, put Trayvon Martin up on a pedestal where he shouldn’t have been, because he’s a regular 17-year-old kid and they knew all this information about him.”

“Quite honestly, I’m not sure there’s any impact at all because no one has seen the video,” O’Mara noted. “They’re entitled to their opinions. I would only hope that they apologize for their mistakes as quickly as I have.”

Geez, this guy is an asshole.

Anyway, did you see this latest report from the ACLU?

The War on Marijuana in Black and White: Report | American Civil Liberties Union

OVER-POLICING
Between 2001 and 2010, there were over 8 million pot arrests in the U.S. That’s one bust every 37 seconds and hundreds of thousands ensnared in the criminal justice system.

WASTED TIME AND MONEY
According to SmokeCartel, enforcing marijuana laws costs us about $3.6 billion a year, yet the War on Marijuana has failed to diminish the use or availability of marijuana.

STAGGERING RACIAL BIAS
Marijuana use is roughly equal among Blacks and whites, yet Blacks are 3.73 times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession.

If you don’t have time to read the entire report you can get a summary of it from HuffPo here: Racial Disparity In Marijuana Arrests: Black Americans Are Nearly 4 Times More Likely Than Whites To Be Arrested For Possession Of Pot (VIDEO)

The U.S. War on Marijuana is not just costly, time-consuming and unnecessary — it’s also racially biased, according to a new report.

In recent years, several states have passed laws that decriminalized marijuana, and a majority of Americans now support legalizing the drug. Yet between 2001 and 2010, there were over 8 million pot arrests in the U.S. What’s worse, the authorities making the arrests were targeting black Americans far more than whites.

According to a new study from the American Civil Liberties Union, which tracked marijuana arrests by race and county in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, black and white Americans use marijuana at about the same rate. However, blacks were nearly four times as likely than whites to be arrested on charges of marijuana possession in 2010.

In Washington D.C., Iowa, Minnesota and Illinois, blacks were 7.5 to 8.5 times more likely than whites to be arrested for possessing pot.

Most of the people being arrested weren’t drug kingpins. Fifty-two percent of all drug arrests in 2010 were for marijuana, and according to the ACLU’s analysis, most of the arrestees were in possession of small amounts of the drug.

And finally, I am going to stick with the African-American theme for this last link.  ‘Black Bodies In Propaganda: The Art Of The War Poster’, TV host’s black war posters focus of US exhibit | theGrio

In this Thursday, May 30, 2013 photo, University of Pennsylvania professor and PBS History Detectives host Tukufu Zuberi speaks about an Italian 1942 broadside matted on canvas by Gino Boccasile during an interview with The Associated Press at the Black Bodies in Propaganda: The Art of the War Poster exhibit at the Penn Museum, in Philadelphia. The new museum exhibition presents 33 posters owned by Zuberi that were designed to mobilize Africans and African-Americans in war efforts, even as they faced oppression and injustice in their homelands. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

In this Thursday, May 30, 2013 photo, University of Pennsylvania professor and PBS History Detectives host Tukufu Zuberi speaks about an Italian 1942 broadside matted on canvas by Gino Boccasile during an interview with The Associated Press at the Black Bodies in Propaganda: The Art of the War Poster exhibit at the Penn Museum, in Philadelphia. The new museum exhibition presents 33 posters owned by Zuberi that were designed to mobilize Africans and African-Americans in war efforts, even as they faced oppression and injustice in their homelands. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

A new exhibit created by a University of Pennsylvania professor and host of a popular public television show examines how wartime propaganda has been used to motivate oppressed populations to risk their lives for homelands that considered them second-class citizens.

“Black Bodies in Propaganda: The Art of the War Poster,” opens Sunday and continues until March 2 at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. Lectures, film screenings and other programming will be rolled out over the course of the exhibit’s run.

The exhibit’s 33 posters, dating from the American Civil War to both World Wars and the African independence movements, are part of the personal collection of Tukufu Zuberi, Penn professor of sociology and African studies and a host of the Public Broadcasting Service series “History Detectives.”

Zuberi began his collection in 2005 and owns 48 posters in all.

[…]

The collection includes posters with affirming messages and images of courageous black soldiers to stir in its intended audience a sense of national belonging and patriotic pride. Also implied was a promise that blacks who served their country in war would return home to America or Europe with the rights and freedoms that their white counterparts enjoyed.

That promise, as history shows, was not kept.

“They go and they fight and they’re victorious, and when all is said and done, they return home,” Zuberi said. “And it’s ‘Go back to your second-class citizen status, democracy is not here for you, you are not civilized and you are not ready for it.”

I wish I lived in Philadelphia so I could see these posters! This sounds fascinating.

Conversely, the collection also includes negative posters that used hateful stereotypes to portray Africans and African-Americans as threats to white society. Zuberi’s favorite piece, perhaps surprisingly, is one of the most offensive in his collection.

Made in 1942 by Italian illustrator Gino Boccasile, “The Two-Dollar Venus” features a caricature of a black U.S. soldier as a brutish character with a buffoonish grin, his arm around the statue of Venus de Milo with “$2″ scrawled across the torso.

“It’s beautiful in itself. It has a very ugly, derogatory tone, but it’s done very well,” Zuberi said. “This is saying to the Italian people: ‘If the U.S. comes here, they’re going to bring these people; they’re going to take a priceless cultural icon and put a price on it.’”

Those of you in the Philly area, if you have the time be sure and check this exhibit out. And if you do, please share your experience with us.

That is all for this morning, what going on in your part of the world?


Lazy Evening Reads

And that is just what it is going to be…

Good Evening!

SP Cripple Fight 2.jpg
Big Gay Al fights for his right to be a Mountain Scouts troop leader.

More on Big Gay Al at the end of the post…first, some of you may have missed this bit of news that came out yesterday.

George Zimmerman’s Attorney To Address Gun Rights Activists At Second Amendment Foundation Conference

According to an e-mail sent by the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF), Mark O’Mara, the defense attorney for George Zimmerman, will speak at the SAF-sponsored Gun Rights Policy Conference (GRPC), which will begin September 28. The conference will be held, for the first time in its 27 year history, in Florida.

Uh, I don’t know, sounds a bit questionable to me. I mean maybe it is not an official ethics discretion, but it damn well looks strange to me. Oh, and I would not be surprised if that SAF-GRPC group has ties to some form of hate group…I googled the SAF-GRPC and see a bunch of crazy gun links, which I don’t have the energy to investigate. (I also don’t feel like linking to them because, well they are crazy gun fanatics.)  But there is one article in that list that mentions why the Jews like “bloomturd” hate guns…so go figure.

Yesterday was the anniversary of the Voting Rights Act. Take a look at this link to remember what an important step this was in our history.  The Voting Rights Act: A 20th Century American Revolution

On its anniversary, a look at why the Voting Rights Act was one of the most revolutionary laws passed in American history.

Today is the 47th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, passed in 1965 by a bipartisan (if sectional) majority of Congress, and signed by President Lyndon Johnson. With the fight over who deserves to vote having been reignited by the partisan push for voter identification, and with conservatives mounting legal attacks on key provisions of the Act, it’s worth noting the degree to which the VRA was a milestone for democracy in this country.

Hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it…right?  Voter ID Laws Solve No Existing Problem 

Rick Hasen points out how, even if voter fraud were a problem (it isn’t), voter ID laws would be no kind of solution. There are several types of voter fraud, according to the most fervent promoters of it. You have voter registration fraud, when someone sends in a bunch of fake names and registers them to vote. For that to matter, Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck would have to actually show up at the polls to vote. You have absentee ballot fraud. There’s insider voter fraud, where elections officials manage the votes to get a particular candidate elected. Finally, you have in-person voter fraud, where someone votes in an election more than once. That’s the only one that would be captured by the voter ID law. And that one really never happens.

Meanwhile, Larry Pittman is at it again.  Does Pittman Want to Publicly Hang Planned Parenthood?

North Carolina Republican Larry Pittman is back to doing what he does best–sending rabidly anti-choice emails. This time, he is accusing reproductive health care provider Planned Parenthood of “murder for hire.”

Via Think Progress:

State Rep. Larry Pittman (R) had a strong reaction to a recent email from Planned Parenthood that appealed state legislators not to cut funding to the organization. Pittman responded to the email, which was sent to each member of the NC House of Representatives Health and Human Services Appropriations committee at the end of May, with allegations that Planned Parenthood is a “murderous organization”:

PITTMAN: [Planned Parenthood] is a murderous organization…getting wealthy on murder for hire. It deals out nothing but deception, death, personal devastation, and moral degradation. Never will I agree to give that bloody, indecent, immoral organization one penny. I will not be satisfied until it is outlawed.

The latest diatribe was provoked by a plea from the provider to the state to not cut its budget, but last time Pittman went on a “murder” rampage, it didn’t take an event associated with reproductive health to set him off.

Asshole.

And finally,  Boy Scout files reveal repeat child abuse by sexual predators

Boy Scouts

Clockwise from top left are Alan Dunlap, Floyd Slusher, Mark Bumgarner and Stephen Field. They are among the men about whom the Boy Scouts of America had received molestation allegations who nevertheless continued or regained involvement with the organization and were later convicted on abuse charges. (Texas Department of Public Safety, Colorado Department of Corrections, Virginia State Police and California Department of Justice)

Okay, so “they” are completely against “gay” boyscout members and leaders, but yet the damn association is seething with pedophiles…it makes me think of the episode of South Park.

Cripple Fight (Season 5, Episode 3) – Full Episode Player – South Park Studios

Big Gay Al returns to South Park as the new scout leader. When he is fired for being gay, the boys rally to his defense with the help of the new “handi-capable” kid, Jimmy. But there’s only room for one crippled kid in South Park, so Timmy and Jimmy throw down in an all-out slugfest.

That description fails to mention the replacement for Big Gay Al.  (And like I said, it is a very lazy way of writing a post tonight…even the description below is from Wikipedia…how pathetic is that!)

Stan, Cartman, Kenny, and Timmy have joined Mountain Scouts troop number 69 and are on their way to their first meeting. When they arrive, they find that their scoutmaster is Big Gay Al. The boys enjoy themselves at the meeting and decide that they like Mountain Scouts, but some parents fear that Big Gay Al will be a poor influence on the boys and that he may be a pedophile.

After a lifetime of membership, Big Gay Al is thrown out of Mountain Scouts. A new, masculine, scoutmaster named Mr. Grazier is appointed and he promises the parents he will whip the boys into line and make them good scouts, but proceeds to force them to pose for naked pictures with a threat to beat them up if they let this slip.

[…]

Big Gay Al sues the Mountain Scouts, while Mr. Grazier is revealed to be a pedophile who goes by the name “Mr. Slippyfist” and is arrested. Although the Colorado State Supreme Court rules in Big Gay Al’s favor orders the Mountain Scouts to take him back, he refuses, saying that he loves scouts too much to impose his will on them, and while they should be talked into changing their mind and he begs people not to cut their funding or support for the scouts, adding that as the Scouts are a private organization, he believes it is their libertarian right to form their own policies on homosexuality. This causes Gloria Allred to brand Big Gay Al as a homophobe.

If you have about 20 minutes to spare check the video out. But for now, I leave you with this lame post…just think of it as a open thread.


Saturday Reads

It’s Saturday morning and our country is once again saddened by a horrible, violent crime. The shootings in Colorado yesterday were tragic. Even more tragic is the fact that mass shootings have become almost commonplace in our country, but none of our so-called leaders respond by actually taking action to prevent more such massacres in the future.

I feel heartsick not only for all of the victims and their families but also for the family of the perpetrator. I can’t begin to imagine how horrible it would be to lose a family member so senselessly or to have a family member commit such a horrific crime. If only this time politicians would stand up to the bloodthirsty NRA, but I know it’s not going to happen.

I’m not going to link to any more articles about yesterday’s murders. I just can’t stand to read about it right now. So let’s see what else is happening.

Chris Cilizza asks “Who had the worst week in Washington? Rep. Michele Bachmann.”

Anytime you are compared to former senator Joseph McCarthy — he of “red scare” infamy — it’s probably not very good for your political career.

That’s the situation Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.) found herself in this past week after it came to light that she and four other House Republicans had sent letters to the inspectors general of the departments of Homeland Security, State and Justice, asking them to look into whether the Muslim Brotherhood has tentacles within the U.S. government.

Bachmann focused her attack on Human Abedin, long-time friend and aide to Hillary Clinton and wife of former Rep. Anthony Weiner. She also slimed fellow Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison.

In an interview with radio host Glenn Beck on Thursday, Bachmann asserted that Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, has a long record of being associated with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Ellison, DFL-Minneapolis, said in a subsequent interview Thursday night with CNN’s Anderson Cooper that he has no ties to the Brotherhood, a fundamentalist Islamic movement that recently came to power in Egypt and that some say maintains ties to the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas.

Bachmann offered no evidence of ties between Ellison and the Muslim Brotherhood during the Beck interview. Bachmann’s spokesman, Dan Kotman, cited a 2009 Fox News report that Ellison had a trip paid for by the Muslim American Society, a group described by an expert quoted in that report as “the de facto arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in the U.S.”

It’s simply beyond me why anyone would support this woman or vote for her, yet she is one of the top fund-raisers in the House of Representatives.

I watched some of the British Open today. Please don’t get mad at me. I can’t help rooting for Tiger Woods. I find it so hard to resist a comeback story, and Woods has slowly been recovering his pre-scandal form.

LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England — From the time he arrived in northwest England on Sunday, it was clear Tiger Woods had a game plan for Royal Lytham & St. Annes.

He had fond memories of the place, having been low amateur here in 1996 and calling it one of his favorite courses on the Open Championship rota. He enjoyed the challenge of avoiding the numerous pitfalls of the old links. Without saying so, he appeared determined to put an end to his four-year major championship victory drought.

Part of the plan was to stay out of the numerous bunkers that give Royal Lytham its teeth. The wind was down and the course was soft, but getting into those hazards is, well, hazardous.

It obviously wasn’t part of the plan when Woods’ approach to the par-4 18th found a greenside bunker. His caddie, Joe LaCava, said the shot was one of his best of the day. But the wind played a factor, the ball drifted into the sand and … uh-oh.

Then Woods holed the shot for a birdie.

A thunderous roar echoed around the 18th green as Woods gave a fist pump. He had made his statement at the Open Championship.

The tournament continues through the weekend, and I’ll probably watch a little more of it. The scenery relaxes me if nothing else.

I’ll just give you two Mitt Romney links this morning. First, this column by conservative political handicapper Charlie Cook from early in the week: Red Alert.

The strategic decision by the Romney campaign not to define him personally—not to inoculate him from inevitable attacks—seems a perverse one. Given his campaign’s ample financial resources, the decision not to run biographical or testimonial ads, in effect to do nothing to establish him as a three-dimensional person, has left him open to the inevitable attacks for his work at Bain Capital, on outsourcing, and on his investments. It’s all rather inexplicable. Aside from a single spot aired in the spring by the pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future, not one personal positive ad has been aired on Romney’s behalf. The view that any day or dollar spent on talking about anything other than the economy is a waste has been taken to such an extreme that Romney has no positive definition other than that of being a rich, successful, and presumably smart businessman. People see and feel the reasons for firing Obama every day in the economic statistics and the struggle that so many Americans face daily. The Romney campaign seems focused on reinforcing a message that hardly needs reinforcing, while ignoring a clear and immediate danger to its own candidate’s electability.

The attacks on Bain, outsourcing, and his investments are sticking to Romney like Velcro, and it’s hard to see how that will change until he picks his running mate. Romney has lost control of the debate and the dialogue. Instead of voters focusing on the economy, they are now hearing about investments and accounts in Switzerland and the Cayman Islands, as well as about outsourcing and layoffs….if I were a Republican, I would be very concerned about the events of the past two weeks, questioning both strategy and tactics as well as the underlying assumptions that have led to the campaign decisions made so far.

Second, check out this slideshow of photos of “Sad Mitt Romney” at Mother Jones. In number 8, he looks like he’s about to cry–maybe because of mean bully Obama’s attacks on his “success.”

Sorry–I threw in another link there, but you don’t have to click on it.

Here’s a knee-slapper from Raw Story: Top tea partier demands Obama prove he doesn’t smoke crack and have gay sex

The president of Tea Party Nation declared on Thursday that if Mitt Romney is to release his tax returns, President Barack Obama should release medical records to prove he’s not a drug addict who smoked crack and had gay sex with a lifelong con-man.

Judson Phillips, whose for-profit group is better known to Tennessee as the “Tea Party Nation Corporation,” explained in an essay that also went out in a mass email to his followers that the American people must know whether the president had secret financial support in college due to his status as a “foreign student” — and dredged up a long-disproved story of Obama’s alleged encounter smoking crack and having sex with a gay prostitute.

At The Nation, Ari Melber reports:

A new campaign calling for “a woman moderator” for the presidential debates has drawn over 115,000 supporters online, through the social action website Change.org, and the Commission on Presidential Debates is taking notice. Janet Brown, the commission’s executive director, told The Nation she knew of the petition’s popularity and her colleagues “welcome” the input “regarding moderator selection.”

The petition, which was started by three high school students in New Jersey, Emma Axelrod, Sammi Siegeland and Elena Tsemberis, casts the paucity of female moderators as an issue of equality. “We were shocked to find out that it has been twenty years since a woman last moderated a presidential debate,” the petition notes, in reference to the 1992 debate led by ABC News’s Carole Simpson. The students started the effort in conjunction with their civics class, and it is now “the largest elections-related petition” on Change.org, according to Michael Jones, the site’s deputy campaign director. A related effort on UltraViolet.org, a new organizing platform for women’s rights, has drawn another 50,000 supporters.

Now that is something I’d like to see–as long as the moderator isn’t Barbara Walters or Diane Sawyer.

I’m sure you’ve heard that George Zimmerman has “gone rogue” again. He has again set up his on website talking to the media and generally appears to be ignoring his attorney’s advice. You’ll recall that he did that with his previous attorneys and they resigned from his case in a nationally televised news conference. On JJ’s Thursday night post, Northwestrain linked to an interesting wordpress blog called the Frederick Leatherman Law Blog. It’s run by an attorney who has been commenting on the Trayvon Martin case. I found his latest post fascinating. He thinks Mark O’Mara, Zimmerman’s attorney, should resign.

GZ is the quintessential difficult client. He is paranoid, secretive, fearful, angry, stubborn, doesn’t trust anyone, controlling, believes he’s smarter than anyone else, manipulative, and probably delusional. It’s absolutely clear that he does not feel any emotional distress or regret for having killed TM.

His claim that TM died as part of “God’s Plan” exhibits a frightening dissociation from reality and a willingness to kill without any sense of responsibility or regret, if he deems it necessary to do so. In other words, if he should find himself in another situation where he believes he is cornered and needs to kill someone to save face or save his ass, I believe he’s likely to do so and excuse what he did as just carrying out God’s will.

I think he is a danger to himself or others and he belongs in a secure mental health facility or a jail. He needs a thorough mental health evaluation.

I fear that Mark O’Mara is a potential victim and I am concerned about his safety. He’s clearly lost control of GZ despite his protestations to the contrary. GZ clearly sees O’Mara in the way and O’Mara has to be very careful how he handles the “uncharted waters” (his words) in which he finds himself.

If he pushes too hard in an effort to regain control, assuming he ever had control, things could get ugly.

I couldn’t agree more. I think O’Mara is destroying his reputation because he craves the media attention that goes along with this case. But Zimmerman is obviously a very sick man with almost no ability to control his impulses. O’Mara should cut and run.

Finally, have you heard that Elizabeth Warren may be asked to give the keynote speech at the Democratic Convention? Steve Kornacki writes:

Early in the week, NBC News and the New York Post reported that Chris Christie would be the Republicans’ featured speaker at their Tampa convention. Mitt Romney’s campaign has refused to confirm the report, though, and Christie himself was mum on the subject when questioned on Thursday. Also on Thursday, the Boston Globe reported that an Obama campaign official had confirmed that Elizabeth Warren was a candidate to deliver the Democratic keynote speech in Charlotte.

There’s no guarantee they’ll be chosen, but Christie and Warren are unusually obvious and logical candidates for the slots. Both have exploded onto the national scene during the Obama presidency by articulating their parties’ basic message and values with more charisma and precision than anyone else – including, arguably, their parties’ nominees.

That would be quite a contrast!

Now what are you reading and blogging about today?


George Zimmerman Had “Closed Fracture” of Nose; Was Taking Adderall and Temazepam

ABC News has gotten hold of a medical report from George Zimmerman’s doctor.

A medical report compiled by the family physician of accused Trayvon Martin murderer George Zimmerman and obtained exclusively by ABC News found that Zimmerman was diagnosed with a “closed fracture” of his nose, a pair of black eyes, two lacerations to the back of his head and a minor back injury the day after he fatally shot Martin during an alleged altercation.

Zimmerman visited a doctor the day after he shot Trayvon Martin.

The record shows that Zimmerman also suffered bruising in the upper lip and cheek and lower back pain. The two lacerations on the back of his head, one of them nearly an inch long, the other about a quarter-inch long, were first revealed in photos obtained exclusively by ABC News last month.

But the report also shows Zimmerman declined hospitalization the night of the shooting, and then declined the advice of his doctor to make a follow-up appointment with an ear nose and throat doctor.

In addition to his physical injuries, Zimmerman complained of stress and “occasional nausea when thinking about the violence.”

It’s interesting that ABC News has been the recipient of a number of leaks in the Trayvon Martin case. It’s difficult not to suspect that this one came from the defense. I suppose it could also have come from someone at the Sanford Police Department who is sympathetic to Zimmerman.

The leaked medical report revealed some surprising information. We’ve learned that Sanford Police investigator did not test Zimmerman for drugs or alcohol, but the report indicates that he was taking Adderall and Temazepam. Adderall is an amphetamine generally used to treat ADHD.

The combination of dextroamphetamine and amphetamine is used as part of a treatment program to control symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD; more difficulty focusing, controlling actions, and remaining still or quiet than other people who are the same age) in adults and children. Dextroamphetamine and amphetamine tablets are also used to treat narcolepsy (a sleep disorder that causes excessive daytime sleepiness and sudden attacks of sleep). The combination of dextroamphetamine and amphetamine is in a class of medications called central nervous system stimulants. It works by changing the amounts of certain natural substances in the brain.

Back in the 1960s and 1970s, we called it speed. Here is a portion of the warnings that go along with using this drug:

The combination of dextroamphetamine and amphetamine can be habit-forming. Do not take a larger dose, take the medication more often, or take it for a longer time than prescribed by your doctor. If you take too much dextroamphetamine and amphetamine, you may find that the medication no longer controls your symptoms, you may feel a need to take large amounts of the medication, and you may experience symptoms such as rash, difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, irritability, hyperactivity, and unusual changes in your personality or behavior. Overusing dextroamphetamine and amphetamine may also cause sudden death or serious heart problems such as heart attack or stroke.

Tell your doctor if you or anyone in your family drinks or has ever drunk large amounts of alcohol, uses or has ever used street drugs, or has overused prescription medications. Your doctor will probably not prescribe dextroamphetamine and amphetamine for you.

According to Pharma Watchdogs, Temazepam is a benzodiazapine, in the same family as Valium and Xanax. It is generally prescribed for people who have difficulty sleeping. Someone taking Adderall might have difficulty going to sleep and staying asleep. This drug also is not to be prescribed for someone who drinks alcohol.

I’m quite curious about why George Zimmerman was taking Adderall. I haven’t read anything so far to indicate that he has ADHD. Adderall could certainly cause someone to be anxious, jittery, hypervigilant, and/or paranoid.

In other news, WFTV Orlando reported this morning that the FBI “may charge George Zimmerman with [a] hate crime.”

SANFORD, Fla. — WFTV has learned charges against George Zimmerman could be getting more serious.

State prosecutors said Zimmerman, a neighborhood watchman, profiled and stalked 17-year-old Trayvon Martin before killing him, so the FBI is now looking into charging him with a hate crime.

FBI investigators are actively questioning witnesses in the retreat at the Twin Lakes neighborhood, seeking evidence for a possible federal hate crime charge.

This morning prosecutors released a list of the evidence that was handed over to Zimmerman’s attorney Mark O’Mara yesterday.

So far O’Mara has been stalling the public release of evidence, but now that someone is presumably leaking information favorable to the defense side, media organizations will soon begin to demand that it all be released. Florida has a very strict sunshine laws that require release of all documents related to trials.