Saturday Reads: Newtown Anniversary, Normalizing Gun Violence, and Other NewsPosted: December 14, 2013 Filed under: Austerity, Barack Obama, Crime, Foreign Affairs, Gun Control, Iran, morning reads, Politics as Usual, Psychopaths in charge, U.S. Politics | Tags: CIA, gun violence, media, Newtown, polygamy and privacy, Robert Levinson, school shootings, second amendment, Sister Wives, snow, weather, winter storms 44 Comments
I spent yesterday preparing for Winter Storm Electra. I stopped by the hardware store to get ice melt crystals and then headed to the grocery store to drop off a prescription and a few things I’ll need in case I can’t get my car out of the driveway for a couple of days.
I had an appointment in the afternoon, and then I made a fruitless attempt to find a parking space in the giant Whole Foods parking lot in Cambridge. Then back to my regular grocery store to pick up my prescription and a few refrigerated items. The store was even more packed this time, so I was glad I had stopped earlier. Finally, I went home, to stash my purchases and scatter ice melt on the all the icy surfaces left over from Winter Storm Dion.
So now I’m in hibernation mode until Monday. I just hope I can handle the shoveling myself. The weather folks are predicting anything from 5 to 12 inches of snow for my area. It was 11 degrees here when I woke up and its only 12 degrees right now. It’s hard to believe it can even snow when it’s so cold. But the weather people say it’s going to snow. If it starts this afternoon, I plan to shovel before it gets dark–then there won’t be so much to do tomorrow. It’s way too early for this. It won’t even be officially winter until next week. Those of you in the Midwest are probably already getting the storm–how is it going there? Is it still cold down South? We can commiserate in the comments.
Now to the news. It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since Newtown, but today is the anniversary of that awful day. It still breaks my heart when I think about it. I can’t even begin to imagine the pain of the families who lost children. From CNN:
Horror struck Newtown, Connecticut, in such a disturbing way that the nation still struggles with its impact a year later.
The legacy of the second-deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history is so profound that it cannot hold just one meaning. It holds several. That’s because the crime itself conveys multiple issues in its summary:
A mentally ill 20-year-old recluse obsessed with school shootings enters Sandy Hook Elementary School after the morning bell and kills six adult women, 12 girls and eight boys in 11 minutes. The children were 6 or 7 years old. The heavily armed Adam Lanza, who first killed his mother before taking her car to the school, also killed himself, in a classroom.
On the anniversary of the December 14 slaughter — under the shadow of another school shooting, this time at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colorado — country and community alike pause and reflect on an event known simply as “Newtown” or “Sandy Hook” and what it says about America on the matters of guns, mental health, healing, and the human spirit.
A whole year after the slaughter of 20 first-graders and 6 adults, and our do-nothing Congress has done exactly nothing to control the purchase of weapons of war for everyday use. CBS News reports:
Not a single federal law curbing gun violence has passed in the year since a young man from Newtown, Conn. who’d long exhibited signs of mental instability got a hold of his mother’s AR-15-style Bushmaster rifle and two of her handguns and gunned down 20 first-graders and six of their educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School before taking his own life.
Capping a year that saw the most mass shootings in U.S. history, Newtown seemed to mark a turning point in national conversation about gun control. Within a month of the shooting, President Obama – promising to make the issue a hallmark of his second-term agenda – had signed several executive orders to make schools safer and gun purchases more transparent. But real reform, he said, would require bipartisan backing from lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
Six months after the Dec. 14, 2012 tragedy, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., insisted the push for tougher gun laws and bolstered support for mental health in America was “still on the front burner.” But foundation for that statement was flimsy.
Manchin’s own amendment to strengthen background checks for gun purchases – co-sponsored by Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., and seen by many in Congress to be the most realistic hope for immediate reform to gun laws – had collapsed in the Senate two months earlier. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., had “hit pause” on debate over firearms altogether, pulling the legislation from the floor indefinitely.
The emotions surrounding Newtown, it seemed, were no longer driving the conversation about gun control.
Is anyone really surprised that something a huge majority of Americans support cannot get through Congress? Of course not. We can’t even get them to stop hurting the economy with their obsessive and idiotic push for unnecessary austerity. We should turn every one of them out of office–Democrats and Republicans and start from scratch.
And is anyone shocked that there was another school shooting the day before this horrible anniversary? Why should we be? Our so-called leaders don’t seem to care how many children die so they can keep getting donations from the NRA. A couple of stories on the shooting in Colorado.
Denver Post as of last night: Shooting at Arapahoe High School, 1 girl in critical condition, gunman dead.
A student carried a shotgun into Arapahoe High School, asked where to find a specific teacher and then opened fire on Friday, Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson said. He shot a fellow student in the head before apparently killing himself.
A 15-year-old girl was reported in critical condition after undergoing surgery. Two other students were treated and released from a hospital for non-gunshot injuries.
The gunman, identified as 18-year-old Karl Pierson, was found dead inside a classroom from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, Robinson said. Authorities believe he acted alone.
Robinson said authorities are investigating reports that Pierson may have been motivated by revenge against the teacher following a disagreement….Fellow classmates described the gunman as a bright student and a gifted debater whose family attended Bible study meetings.
The shootings — on the eve of the anniversary of the Newtown school massacre, in which 20 students and six staffers were murdered — sent scores of terrified students and staffers at Centennial’s Arapahoe High School scurrying at about 12:30 p.m. Police and other first responders quickly mobilized to surround the 2,220-student school.
A 15-year-old girl suffered a gunshot wound and was reported in critical condition at a Littleton hospital Friday evening.One other student suffered minor gunshot-related injuries and was released from the hospital hours later, authorities said. Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson said Friday night that another girl taken to a hospital was covered in blood from the other student, but wasn’t injured….
The gunman also brought two Molotov cocktails inside the school and exploded one, KUSA-TV reported. The other was found and removed by the bomb squad.
The incident unfolded when the armed student entered the west side of the school from a student parking lot. He told other students he was interested in confronting a specific teacher. “Word got around immediately,” Robinson said.
The teacher, informed of the situation, fled the building unharmed, said Robinson, who noted that the teacher’s decision to flee helped limit the potential carnage.
Our children are dying violently in this country, in places in which they should be safe–their schools and their homes. Why aren’t we doing anything to protect them? At an age when they should be concentrating on learning, developing social skills, and just having fun, our children are threatened by gun violence on a daily basis. What kind of nation allows this kind of slaughter to continue in the name of “second amendment rights” and greed? A few more links from around the ‘net:
Reuters: Obama marks Newtown school shooting anniversary with call for gun control
Star-Tribune Nation: In Newtown, a year of wrenching reminders
Mother Jones: Portraits of the Hundreds of Children Killed by Guns Since Newtown
Matthew Lysiak at The Guardian: We can no longer allow sick individuals like Adam Lanza to go on untreated
New York Daily News: Another year of the gun
Gawker: What Kind of Monster Wants to Shoot Up His School? (highly recommended)
In other news,
Here’s a surprising story from Jonthan Turley’s blog: Federal Court Strikes Down Criminalization of Polygamy In Utah
It is with a great pleasure this evening to announce that decision of United States District Court judge Clarke Waddoups striking down key portions of the Utah polygamy law as unconstitutional. The Brown family and counsel have spent years in both the criminal phase of this case and then our challenge to the law itself in federal court. Despite the public statements of professors and experts that we could not prevail in this case, the court has shown that it is the rule of law that governs in this country. As I have previously written, plural families present the same privacy and due process concerns faced by gay and lesbian community over criminalization. With this decision, families like the Browns can now be both plural and legal in the state of Utah. The Court struck down the provision as violating both the free exercise clause of the first amendment as well as the due process clause. The court specifically struck down language criminalizing cohabitation — the provision that is used to prosecute polygamists. The opinion is over 90 pages and constitutes a major constitutional ruling in protection of individual rights.
I just don’t know what to say about this, because I associate polygamy with the abuse of women and children. Am I a bigot? A couple more links:
Salt Lake Tribune: Federal judge declares Utah polygamy law unconstitutional
The Telegraph: ‘Sister Wives’ reality star wins legal fight against Utah anti-polygamy law
I haven’t been following the Robert Levinson story, but I will be from now on. Levinson has been missing in Iran for 7 years and has just been outed as a CIA operative. Links:
NYT: A Disappearing Spy, and a Scandal at the C.I.A.
ABC News: Family of Robert Levinson, American Held In Iran, Says He Was Spying for the CIA
The Register-Guard: White House declines to discuss missing American Robert Levinson’s CIA ties
Gawker: ABC, NYT Repeatedly Lied About CIA Operative Robert Levinson
Liberty Voice: Robert Levinson: Used by CIA, Forgotten by USA, Burned by Media, Left in Iran
WaPo: Sen. Bill Nelson: I told AP not to run Robert Levinson story
Those are my offerings today. What stories are you following? Let us know in the comment thread, and have a great weekend!
Wednesday Reads: Unbelievable Misogynistic Bullcrap, a Vulgar Munchkin, and the Pope Talks TurkeyPosted: November 27, 2013 Filed under: abortion rights, Accommodation and Compromise, Affordable Care Act (ACA), Afghanistan, birth control, children, court rulings, Discrimination against women, fetus fetishists, Foreign Affairs, fundamentalist Christians, Injustice system, legislation, misogyny, morning reads, PLUB Pro-Life-Until-Birth, racism, Real Life Horror, religion, Religious Conscience, religious extremists, Reproductive Health, Reproductive Rights, SCOTUS, the GOP, War on Women, Women's Healthcare, Women's Rights | Tags: Newtown, Sandy Hook, Spongebob, UNICEF 38 Comments
There is just waaaaaaay too much going on in my life right now, and it is too sadly complicated to get into it for personal reasons. Why does it always seem like a constant stream of shit is there ready to hit the fan?
This will be another link dump, and if any of the news reads are repeats, oops.
I have a motherload of hateful misogynistic anti-woman links for you:
Custody Battle Raises Questions About the Rights of Women – NYTimes.com
When Bode Miller, the Olympic ski star known for daring Alpine racing, met Sara A. McKenna in San Diego last year through the high-end matchmaker Kelleher International, they were both professing interest in finding a marriage partner, she recalls.
The relationship did not last long — but she did become pregnant. And now the skier, 36, and Ms. McKenna, 27, a former Marine and firefighter who is attending Columbia University with G.I. Bill support, are locked in a cross-country custody fight that has become not only tabloid fodder but also a closely watched legal battle over the rights of pregnant women to travel and make life choices.
Or as Ana at Shakesville blog puts it: Absconding With One’s Fetus
A U.S. court actually ruled that a woman who left California, while pregnant, to attend an Ivy League college, after having been exhorted by her ex-boyfriend to abort the pregnancy, absconded with her own fetus…
I don’t really know what to say to this, except that this doesn’t occur in a vacuum divorced from the context of, to name two examples, pressure to keep birth control from women (including hormonal birth control on insurance plans and Plan B emergency birth control in hospitals and granting pharmacists the ‘right’ to not dispense birth control unless they really want to) and movement to restrict the abortion rights of women.
If you can deny women the ability to prevent and/or end pregnancies, and if you can rule that pregnant women aren’t allowed to move because it’s abduction of, ooops, appropriation of a man’s fetus, then you can reduce cis fertile women (which are not all women, but are still a shitload of people) to a socially immobile worker class — unable to move out of abusive relationships, unable to move to a better support network, unable to move to a better education or a different job. Corporate dystopia and religious dystopia meet, as always, over the control of women’s bodies.
And if that shit wasn’t bad enough…here is a woman who could lose custody of her kids over an abortion | New York Post
She had an abortion. So what?
That first-trimester abortion, which last time I checked was legal in this country, could make a judge strip Lisa’s custody of the two precious babies she obsessed, agonized and fussed over from the day they were born.
Lisa and husband Manuel John Mehos, founder and CEO of Houston’s Green Bank, split in 2011, ending five years of wedded misery. Now Manuel is waging a scorched-earth campaign for custody of the couple’s daughter, Macy, 6, and son, John, 4 — a bizarre battle in which Lisa’s fitness as a mother is being judged by standards one might see in Texas. Or the Middle East.
“I’m divorced. I’m not Mother Teresa!’’ a teary Lisa told me. “I feel like I’ve been beaten up and raped.’’
Lisa, who lost temporary custody of the kids in August, is now bracing for the possibility that she’ll lose them permanently.
More at this link: Mother Lisa Mehos who lost custody of her children because she had an abortion speaks out | Mail Online
Backstory here: The abortion that could cost a mom her family – Salon.com
While Lisa’s abortion is relevant, according to Judge Sattler, Manuel’s sexual behavior is apparently not. A forensic psychologist testified that Manuel had confessed to visiting massage parlors, where he paid for sex. Lisa sees a double standard: “The court jumped at the chance to use the stigma of abortion to openly scorn, interrogate, and question my ability to be a worthy parent,” she told me.
Court transcripts reveal that Alter has argued — and Judge Sattler has agreed — that the abortion speaks to Lisa Mehos’ credibility. First, Alter says Lisa was dishonest because she claimed to be Catholic but had an abortion. Lisa had requested that her children spend Easter with her family, who observe the holiday, instead of with her husband — who, as an atheist, does not. “I never criticized him for being an atheist,” Lisa said. “I simply said, since you don’t celebrate religious holidays, could the children spend Easter with my parents because we do celebrate religious holidays.” The prosecution suggests that the fact that Lisa had an abortion as a Catholic calls her credibility into question. But 27 percent of the women who receive abortions in the U.S. are Catholic. Are they also untrustworthy?
Full look at the legal side of the case here: New York Court Forces Woman To Testify About an Abortion « Above the Law
Yesterday, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Lori Sattler ruled that Lisa Mehos, who is locked in a custody battle with her husband, banker Manuel Mehos, had to testify about having an abortion.
Why would Lisa’s abortion reflect on her fitness to raise her children?
Given that this is happening in New York rather than Mississippi, the argument is not the backward claim that she can’t possibly love her kids if she had an abortion. Rather, the argument is that she demanded custody of the kids over a weekend when she knew she was going to dump them off with a sitter so she could undergo a medical procedure.
Still, injecting the emotionally charged issue of abortion into the matter fits into an overall strategy of demeaning and vilifying a woman’s sexuality under a double standard that brushes past the transgressions of the father…
And then there is this:
A divorced parent neglecting kids on the weekend he or she has them is a fair issue in a custody hearing. However, the children were left with their grandmother during Lisa’s procedure, and honestly visiting with grandma is not neglect. Which brings us to the real issue here. Eleanor Alter of Kasowitz Benson — who represented Mia Farrow against Woody Allen — is super smart, and knows how to get the best for her client. In this case that involves playing to reptilian impulses (or being “aggressive and innovative,” in Kasowitz-speak).
Alter said she should also be allowed to question Lisa Mehos about the procedure because “this is a woman who complains that she’s under great stress only caused by Mr. Mehos. I would be the first person to acknowledge that having an abortion, especially a two- to three-month late abortion, would be stressful.”
She said she also wanted to know whether the kids “were exposed to this man, how it all came about.”
“If this man was coming in the house, if she’s out of the house to see him, if it was date rape, that’s relevant,” Alter said.
So there’s a couple things to unpack there. First, check out the hysterical woman who’s troubled by all her lady business! See, it’s not the man who might have punched her a few months ago, it’s the ovaries.
Second, the abortion is just the setup for a thorough-going “slut shaming.” Could a divorced woman have a… boyfriend?!? Oh no! Alter adds the possibility of date rape because, I guess it’s supposed to be generous to imply that rather than have a consensual sex life, maybe Lisa was taken advantage of? Maybe?
The judge sided with Alter, noting that Lisa Mehos had previously testified she had never had any men over to her New York apartment. “I do find it to be relevant. The children were in her care at the time,” Sattler said.
Lisa Mehos, 38, then testified that she became pregnant after a one-time fling with a longtime friend at his place.
If she’d already testified that she never had men over at her house, why the hell would the fact that she got pregnant suggest in any way that her prior testimony was unreliable? Can women only get pregnant at home now? If they’re in another bed, does the body have ways of shutting that whole thing down? “I watched last year’s Super Bowl” does not cast doubt on the testimony “I don’t have a TV in my house.” Unless you add in all kinds of aspersions about female sexuality that permeate society infecting men and women.
And about that double-standard?
Lisa Mehos wasn’t the only one to be embarrassed in court — she testified that her ex-husband, who heads a bank in Texas, had tearfully confessed to her that he had cheated on her dozens of times with prostitutes.
I get that the Daily News is reporting on the controversy surrounding the forced testimony about an abortion rather than the trial as a whole, but it sure seems odd that a hooker habit doesn’t raise the same ferocity of “OH MY GOD HE’S AN UNFIT PARENT” as having one fling with a friend.
In other news, and another link to Shakesville: This Is Racism
This is Vanessa VanDyke, an Orlando teenager who has been threatened with expulsion from Faith Christian Academy, the private school which she has been attending since the third grade, because administrators say that her natural hair is a “distraction,” and the student handbook forbids hairstyles that cause disruption in the classroom.
What disruption there has been is that her classmates are teasing her about her hair. So, of course administrators have asked Vanessa to change her hair, rather than admonish her classmates to stop being assholes.
Presumably, this school includes among its staff some teachers and administrators who were alive during the ’80s, when white girls were teasing their hair at least that big. (And somehow, despite virtually every female classmate’s picture in my yearbooks looking a helluva lot like that picture of Vanessa above, we all managed to get an education.) But of course it has nothing to do with race. Ahem.
This is racism.
It’s also body policing of a young woman.
And choice policing of a young woman.
The next link deals with George Zimmerman: ORLANDO, Fla.: Deputies find five guns in George Zimmerman’s home, search warrant reveals | MCT National News | McClatchy DC
Is it me, or does the dragon demon in this illustration look like George Zimmerman….
With those beady eyes kind of sucked into the middle of his face?
From Susie Madrak: Pope to rich: Share the wealth |
Boy, I like this pope. More than ever, I can see that we’re going to have to pray for his safety
On to a few links with legal connections:
Supreme Court to Hear Two Contraception Mandate Cases | The Volokh ConspiracyThe Volokh Conspiracy
Health Law Birth-Control Rule Gets U.S. Supreme Court Review (2) – Businessweek
UPDATE 3-U.S. Supreme Court to hear Obamacare contraception cases | Reuters
It still isn’t entirely clear what investigators are looking for in Wisconsin’s latest John Doe investigation, however, judging by the names lining up to oppose the investigation, it must be something bad.
High-powered attorneys line up in John Doe case : Wsj
The identities of the three people seeking to stop the John Doe investigation into Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign and more than two dozen conservative political groups remain a secret.
But the names of their seven attorneys are public, and it’s an impressive list. It includes a former U.S. attorney in Missouri, one of Madison’s top criminal defense lawyers and the former head of the federal task force investigating financial fraud by the nation’s major banks.
Five petitions were filed last week seeking to halt the secret investigation launched in February 2012 in Milwaukee County that has spread to Dane, Iowa, Dodge and Columbia counties. The petitions were filed in the 4th District Court of Appeals against Reserve Judge Gregory Peterson, who is overseeing the probe.
On the Sandy Hook/Newtown front:
Judge orders Sandy Hook 911 calls released
Newtown police response investigated Republican American
Secrecy shrouds Sandy Hook shooting investigation – Chicago Sun-Times
Read the State Attorney’s Full Report on Sandy Hook Shooting with Evidence Photos | Mediaite
Sandy Hook Report: Why did it take 11 months? | Opinion | McClatchy DC
Over on the other side of the world: Karzai details conditions for signing US security pact | Al Jazeera America
Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai has refused to sign a security deal with the United States, the White House said, raising the prospect of a complete withdrawal of U.S. troops from the war-ravaged nation next year.
Karzai told U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice in Kabul on Monday that the United States must put an immediate end to military raids on Afghan homes and release all remaining Afghan Guantanamo detainees before he would sign a bilateral security pact, his spokesman said.
On Sunday the Loya Jirga, an assembly of Afghan elders, endorsed the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) under those conditions, and Karzai suggested postponing the signing until after national elections — in which he will not be running — next year.
The impasse strengthens doubts about whether any U.S. and NATO troops will remain after the end of next year in Afghanistan, which faces an insurgency by the Taliban and is still training its military, and whether they would be immune from prosecution.
This next link does something cute with the icons of fashion, for a worthy cause: UNICEF Designer Dolls | Styleite
Forty-two fashion designers have been tapped to participate in UNICEF’s designer dolls Les Frimousses initiative, which means it’s again socially acceptable for adults to swoon over dolls the way they did in the springtime of life. The bad news is you won’t be able to procure them with tooth fairy money. Last year, the reserve price for each doll was $647 at current exchange. But since you’re not the selfish brat you once were, you’ll splurge because UNICEF will distribute the funds raised to help vaccinate children in Sudan’s Darfur region.
Get a preview of the pint-sized fashion plates, from the like of Chanel, Dior, and more, below:
If you want to see pictures of all the dolls, look here: Toutes les poupées
I think one of my favorites is this one:
Gilles Dufour – Lot n°58
NINI PEAU DE CHIEN
“Poupée Rock en Roll”
Née à Paris le 1er Août 2013
Finally another look at creative caricatures. This time, cartoon characters…These Iconic Character Voices Have Shocking Pasts That Will Ruin Your Childhood
Alright, I don’t know about “ruining” your childhood, but when I read where SpongeBob’s voice originated from, my fondness for that little square yellow happy dude suddenly made sense.
3. SpongeBob SquarePants was inspired by a misanthropic elf.
SpongeBob would probably sound a lot different if the character’s voice actor had never run into a bitter, foul-mouthed little person.
While auditioning for a TV commercial many years ago, Tom Kenny came across a group of little people in elf costumes who were trying out for a Christmas-themed ad. The sad fact of the matter is that not every vertically-challenged person can play Tyrion Lannister, so many shorter actors find themselves typecast as Santa’s elves and the like, which must do wonders for their outlook on the world. It certainly did with the elf Kenny ran into, who by the sound of it was one of the most profane people he ever met, loudly complaining about his lot in life and using the words “fuck” and “shit” like most people use commas.
He then went on to play a supporting role in “Bad Santa.”
The combination of the heavy swearing and the actor’s high-pitched, fast talking voice left a pretty big impression on Kenny. So much so that when he auditioned for the role of SpongeBob some time later, he remembered and imitated the voice of the swearing little man in a bright green elf costume, which instantly landed him the part. A part, mind you, that is defined by its wide-eyed innocence and yet traces its heritage to, as Kenny described him, a pissed off, vulgar “munchkin.”
Geez…not only was a midget the inspiration for the voice of SpongeBob…it was a foul mouth midget to boot!
Have a fucking awesome Wednesday y’all…and enjoy this day before Thanksgiving.