Tuesday, July 30, 2013

About that 'fiery car crash' and George Zimmerman riding to the rescue...

I'm fascinated with how false or grossly inaccurate stories make the national media, and how and when the blogosphere does such a good job of fact checking them, as an alternative and adjunct to the established print and broadcast media.

For example, both print and broadcast media promoted the idea that George Zimmerman showed up at a car crash in or near Sanford, Florida, with his fire extinguisher and put out a flaming vehicle that had crashed, rescuing the driver, his wife, and two children. It was a non-story; no major damage, no injuries, and absolutely no fire.  It did not even make the local media. 

National media promoted it a week later as George Zimmerman being a hero, JUST ahead of the jurors from his trial coming on national television to claim he got away with murder.

That was the version I saw on a national news broadcast, and that was the story promoted in a number of national print media outlets - Zimmerman saves family from burning SUV.

Hot Air in their coverage noted the routinely and notoriously factually inaccurate site Breitbart had suggested this was a burning vehicle, and that NBC reported it that way.  And noted the correction, without any attending notice that there had been a significant change.
Update: NBC reports that the car was on fire, as suggested by the Breitbart report, so there was some danger here to Zimmerman and the other rescuer.
Update: NBC’s now updated its piece to remove the claims that the car was on fire.
It wasn't only NBC making the correction.

The initial claim of fire, or even someone getting out of a vehicle with a fire extinguisher, absent any sign of fire, surprise me, because very few vehicle crashes result in fires, specifically 0.1 % -- and they are rarely the type of accident where Zimmerman allegedly showed up to help.

The image of someone who has risked life and limb to save others is materially different from helping another person helping someone climb out of a car lying on its side, where there are no apparent injuries.
According to the public information specialist for the Seminole County Sheriff's Office, which responded to the 911 call, they did not post it on their website where it lists the daily dept. activity because it was so unimportant, and they held no press conference nor did they issue any press releases; rather they answered media inquiries a week later, coincidentally (or not) on the day JUST BEFORE the jurors talked.  The SCSO did not see this as media attention worthy, in explaining why they did not make any press notice prior to the media inquiry.

Reports of such an heroic effort of course boosts the image of Zimmerman as a helpful good Samaritan; his image needed some serious help after jurors stated he got away with murder for shooting an unarmed black teen whom, as a guest of residents in the neighborhood, he should have been helping to get home safely instead of killing him.

The notion that Zimmerman is heroic can reasonably be taken to encourage those donors who give him money to give him more, like the group which recently gave him $12,000 to buy more guns. Zimmerman is reportedly broke, or nearly so. Therefore, receiving more than less in the way of donations affects he and his wife very directly and significantly.

Checking the actual Seminole County Sheriff's original press information, there was no mention of fire. The accident report makes no mention of fire. The local press, which I find to be the most reliable reporting on incidents, because of their proximity in the community is very clear there was no fire involved, and that they didn't know anything about it at the time -- in effect, after the national media ran with it.

The notion that there was a fire appears to hinge on Zimmerman having an unnecessary fire extinguisher, AND appears to have been added to the story around the same time that appeared on the Breitbart site.

Most of the sources which originally reported that there was a fiery crash of the SUV involved have now quietly updated their stories - without noting that the update contains a correction or significant change. I have yet to catch an instance where the error or correction was noted on a news broadcast.

The Gerstle family whom Zimmerman helped out of their vehicle isn't saying anything either, having canceled a press conference.  Some attribute this to their having received threats, but this has not been documented, and given the false reports of violence and threats associated with the Zimmerman verdict, is highly suspect. But a better question is why was Mr. Gerstle going to call a national press event for a non-news-worthy story, praising Zimmerman but not the other guy, or the 911 callers? That is strange behavior, and it appears that as the jurors stories about Zimmerman committing murder got attention, lacking any real basis for praising and thanking Zimmerman, the Gerstle press conference was canceled.

The question to be asking here is who benefited from George Zimmerman inaccurately being promoted as a hero on national television, and how did that lead to a non-news story headlining the national news.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

George Zimmerman is no hero, but he does appear to be a first class FRAUD

I was not the only person who was highly skeptical when the news report came out about George Zimmerman coming to the rescue of a family of four trapped in a flaming car crash.

Here's what turns out to be closer to the truth: there was a car crash, it was reported via 911 calls to the Sanford office of the SCSO, to which a Seminole County Sheriff's officer in Sanford by the name of Patrick Rehder responded, as identified by the accident report --- AFTER apparently calling George Zimmerman, only a mile away at his home in the complex where he shot Trayvon Martin, telling him to come to the crash.  Even without the call from LEO buddy Rehder, it appears Zimmerman had a police scanner he was monitoring for such an opportunity to exploit someone else's crisis.

It does NOT appear that the story that George Zimmerman just happened to be driving by, leaped out of his car, and rescued the family is true.

It DOES appear that there was plenty of help from other people pulling out the family from their car lying on it's side in the median, right when it happened, and well before Zimmerman showed up, looking for a situation to exploit to redeem his tarnished image.

In other words, Zimmerman being there was a fake, a fraud, DISHONEST and STAGED.  He was not a hero.

It is not a surprise that the Gerstle family does not want to be part of a press conference to thank faux-hero George Zimmerman for coming to the rescue, NOT because of fear of threats, but because they don't want to be a part of Zimmerman and his co-conspirator Rehder's fraud.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Mysogynist Right - We're coming for you, to vote you out of office

Stephen Colbert Brilliantly Kicks Butt on Right Wing Racism


Sing it Liz!

Moral Mondays, Not-so-Moral Republicans collide, with tyrannical right-wing ordered arrests

from the JDNews, Jacksonville, NC:  More arrested as NC legislature protests continue  May 7, 2013

from the Rocky Mount Telegram: More than 80 arrested in NAACP protest at legislature June 10, 2013

from WSAVMoral Monday protest ends with 84 arrests June 17, 2013

From the Sacramento Bee: Authorities: 73 arrests at NC legislative protests, July 22, 2013

This is a real ongoing, growing grassroots protest, this is not bussed-in astroturf tea partiers acting as they are told to by people working for the Koch Brothers and other big money funders.  And it is not going away, it is getting bigger as these protests have continued from May, through June, and now into July, as the sampling of headlines above shows.

Moral Monday
If history is a reliable predictor, conservatives have consistently been on the wrong side of history, and movements like this, if they stay the course, if they have the endurance - as it appears they have - will win in the end.  It has been generally true of social movements, and it is generally true where the attempts by the establishment to preserve their power in the status quo is unjust or unethical, as the legislative tactics in NC have been.

Arresting old people is just not good politics.  Don't mess with old people, especially old people who started their protesting experience back in the 1960s.
From Slate: “It Was Awesome Getting Arrested”

Every week they gather to protest North Carolina’s Republican-led agenda. Inside the “Moral Mondays” movement.

RALEIGH, N.C.—For a few hours every Monday, one of the black churches on the outskirts of town becomes a political beachhead. Today it’s Christian Faith Baptist Church on Hilltop Drive, conveniently about a mile from the Wake County Detention Center. I walk in shortly after 2 p.m., sign in as “media,” and pick up yesterday’s prayer program, which includes a Harper’s-style listicle of ominous numbers. The last of them:
21 million – estimated numbers of votes cast in North Carolina elections in the last twelve years
1 – number of cases of voter impersonation fraud that occurred in North Carolina in the last 12 years according to the State Board of Elections
It syncs up neatly with today’s rally. For the 12th time this year, state NAACP President Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II will lead a few hundred protesters to the North Carolina legislature, where 90 or so will refuse to leave and be hauled away by police. Every week, they focus on a new piece of legislation from the state’s Republican House and Senate—background checks for welfare recipients, opting out of Obamcare’s Medicaid money, an end to long-term unemployment benefits, an omnibus abortion restrictions bill attached (for reasons of efficiency and bad PR) to a motorcycle safety bill. Every week, the legislation passes anyway.

Yet the reporters keep showing up and talking to Barber. As a PBS camera crew sets up in the chapel, two volunteers wheel a yellow-and-black NAACP logo in front of the pulpit, to frame the shot. Barber, a former linebacker who steadies his considerable bulk on a wooden cane, makes small talk with his interviewers. They want to know how many people they’ll be filming.
“The thing about a moral movement is that you don’t measure numbers,” says Barber, opening the buttons of his long suit coat. “You say you’re gonna get 5,000. Everybody focuses on whether you got 5,000. In a moral movement, it takes one person whose constitutional rights are violated, or one person who’s offended in some way. Think about Dr. King. Birmingham—that was started by 50 people.”
Barber sits for one interview, then another, then talks to me, offering only slight variations on a theme. The goal today is to occupy the Statehouse until police start arresting protesters. It’s not to stop the new voter ID bill, which was dropped at the end of last week, because Moral Monday protesters aren’t taken seriously by the solid Republican majority in the legislature. State Sen. Thom Goolsby calls the movement “Moron Monday.” Gov. Pat McCrory has accused them of “cussing” him out. Sen. Tom Apodaca, who runs the rules committee, has announced the progress of these bills with all the confidence of someone who can’t possibly lose re-election.
“They haven’t moved,” Barber tells me, after I ask what the protesters are actually winning. “The people have moved. Now less than one in five North Carolinians agree with them. Moral Monday is more popular than them.”

Now pray for Justice

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Pro'Green' Tea in Politics?

Energy policy is at the core of astro-turfed Tea Party groups, funded by fossil fuel money like that of the Koch Brothers.  We see the effects of that big money puppeteering in conservative energy policy in Congress, but the real grass roots people of the Tea Party are cutting the strings and turning on their originators, primarily on the east coast, by supporting green energy. 

As conservatives in Congress obstruct job creating policy and promote subsidizing wealthy fossil fuel, the conservatives at the grass roots level is starting to object, a schism that could be significant in both the 2014 and the 2016 election cycles.  It offers hope that the ordinary people on the right might finally start voting their interests and the country's interests, and stop voting the interests of the conservative 1%.

There is no such thing as clean coal, and as we are exhausting the finite resource of coal, to get it out of the ground is requiring increasingly dangerous and destructive methods. Blowing the tops off of mountains ruins the ecology of an area, especially in the way it affects local water sources.

We continue to have deadly accidents to coal miners because our system of inspections and penalties has been rigged so as to give coal companies a free pass to operate unsafe mines. Even in safe mines, there continues to be risks from black lung from inhalation of coal dust by miners, above and beyond the more obvious news-worthy catastrophic losses that occur when mines collapse, explode or catch on fire.

Coal is dirty and dangerous on the mining end, and dirty and dangerous on the user end. We have the opportunity to move out of the 18th and 19th century into the present and future. Just as gasoline and kerosene became new energy sources when whale oil and whaling came to an end as an industry, it is now time to move forward with safe, renewable 'green energy', and to end coal mining.

That is works, that it is cost effective, and that is is cost-effective especially in terms of not only dollars and cents, but health and lives. This is the kind of effort that the GOP and Tea Party in congress are trying to stop by defunding green energy initiatives. OUTSIDE of Congress

Here is an example of effective green energy in Appalachia, the Jobs Project:

About The JOBS Project

The JOBS Project is an organization that serves the dedicated communities in Central Appalachia who have provided the nation with energy for generations.  After more than 150 years of coal mining, a new energy future is on the rise with potential for job creation and tax benefits for local and state economies.  As the renewable energy industry grows, residents of coal producing states like West Virginia, Kentucky, and Ohio deserve to benefit from the natural resources development that will flourish in the region.

The JOBS Project promotes renewable energy as a way to create long-term, good paying jobs.  Our organization aims to make good use of federal and state incentives by offering rural landowners the chance to participate in the development of renewable energy projects beginning in 2010.  To prepare our workforce for jobs in renewable energy, we invite educators to “turn your school into a tool” for learning about technological innovation and 21st century skills.

Our mission

The JOBS Project is a catalyst for sustainable economic diversification in Central Appalachia, creating replicable, locally-owned institutions that capitalize on renewable energy resources.
And here is what they looked like back in 2011, getting started on their first project, via Huff Po:

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A group devoted to creating alternative energy jobs in Central Appalachia is building a first for West Virginia's southern coalfields region this week – a set of rooftop solar panels, assembled by unemployed and underemployed coal miners and contractors.

The 40- by 15-foot solar array going up on a doctor's office in Williamson is significant not for its size but for its location: It signals to an area long reliant on mining that there can be life beyond coal.

SolarPeople were skeptical when the idea was first floated about a year ago, says Nick Getzen, spokesman for The Jobs Project, which is trying to create renewable energy job opportunities in West Virginia and Kentucky. In the southern coalfields, he says, people have only ever gotten electricity one way – from coal-fired power plants.

"This is the first sign for a lot of folks that this is real, and that it's real technology, and they can have it in their communities," Getzen says.
 Here are some examples of the Tea Party standing up to the big money funders of the movement, and even against their own.

Tea Party Takes On Georgia Power Over Lack Of Solar Energy

And this is occurring in other places across the nation:

Koch-Fueled Denial Backfires: Independents, Other Republicans Split With Tea-Party Extremists on Global Warming

Pew Poll: Clean Energy Is A Political Wedge Among Republicans

R.I. Tea Party Supports Wind Power

It a good start in opposing the part of stupid; some of their support is leaving the anti-science side and moving into the light.  We're seeing it in tea party support in places like Missouri for PACE funding; now we just have to see it move up from the conservative grass roots to the federal level.

It keeps happening because we have too many people with guns

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Contradictions: the Law Versus Police and Public Safety Campaigns

cross-posted from IVN

 Contradictions: the Law Versus Police and Public Safety Campaigns Contradictions: the Law Versus Police and Public Safety Campaigns

There is an aspect to the Zimmerman trial that has been under-addressed in spite of the attention devoted to it.

That issue is that while following a person is legal, (unless there is a restraining order/order of protection in place, or unless it violates an anti-stalking law), being followed is generally perceived as suspicious and threatening, and the public is consistently advised  by law enforcement and other authority to be aware of it and to fear it.

The legality of an action is not the appropriate metric of suspicious or threatening behavior.

This seems to have been a key factor in the Zimmerman trial, with the defense noting, quite correctly, that following someone is not illegal, but I would argue they were wrong to claim it was not something which could be held against George Zimmerman. The presumption and flaw in that logic is to equate legal with legitimate or not causing concern or fear.

This contradicts not only my personal experience, but every directive by police and self-defense instructors to children and adults I have ever encountered, beginning with my experience in elementary school, where we were taught as early as kindergarten to be aware and concerned if someone followed us home from school, to and from the bus stop, or during interactions with friends in our neighborhoods. We were to tell adults immediately, reporting it to our school, to police, to our parents.

In 7th grade, during the section on babysitting skills in Home Economics classes, we were taught we should be concerned and alarmed if we were followed in a public place, for ourselves, and to protect the children in our care.  We were told to be aware, and emphatically we were told to be concerned, not to try to speculate on or justify why we were being followed.  This was part of our official educational materials, specifically included in the curricula, part of the printed brochures provided by local law enforcement.  (The brochures were created for the general public, not just tween and teen babysitters.)
In my sociology class in high school, we had a presentation by local law enforcement on crime and safety that included a repetition of the same thing – be aware, be concerned, someone following you is suspicious behavior that could likely precede robbery, rape, or worse.

In college, same thing, be aware of anyone following you – and by anyone, it was stressed that adult men were the greatest concern, individually or in groups.  No distinction was made regarding the race or age of the adult  following you, and it was information provided to both men and women students and staff.
When I went to work for a large international corporation after college, the company hosted local law enforcement safety and self-defense classes for employees on the company premises, and all employees were strongly encouraged to attend. The same message was repeated over and over: be aware of being followed, be concerned, act on that concern for your personal safety.

After I bought my first house, I participated in the formation of a neighborhood watch and held a block party for the ‘take back the night’ celebration. Local law enforcement provide a presentation on what we could do to reduce or prevent crime, and on personal safety.  We were told, specifically, NOT to follow anyone behaving suspiciously or even whom we had observed commit an actual crime, as this was both dangerous to ourselves, and made the job of law enforcement more difficult and confusing in identifying who was the good guy and who was the bad guy, in simplistic terms. 

We were told clearly, if we followed someone, WE would be behaving suspiciously; anyone following us was behaving suspiciously and should be regarded as a threat.

In every case of law enforcement presentations on personal safety, self defense, addressing the dangers in being followed,  confrontation was consistently addressed as one of the valid and sometimes useful responses, although not the most recommended option.

When I was a child, around 4-5 years old, my father bought a very flashy sports car, a ‘rag top’, for my mother to drive.  I thought riding around with the top down was a lot of fun, but in the three months that we had the car, my mother, who was generally considered to be a very attractive woman, was followed home repeatedly while driving that car, by men, mostly a single man, but a few times two men, in strange cars.  These incidents occurred about equally during the daytime and at night; night time was scarier.  Most of the time, the followers would pull into the driveway behind the car, and then leave.  My mother always pulled the car into the garage, opening the garage door with a garage door opener when we were a half a block away, and then immediately closing the garage door behind her, as a protective barrier to the followers. In every instance, the police filed a report, and confirmed this was a danger.

On several occasions, the men in the cars did not leave immediately, but instead got out of their cars and approached the house and attached garage. Those incidents resulted in filing stronger complaints from my parents to police, who showed up in person, took statements, including the license plate number information we provided.  The police officers stressed to my parents that it was the wrong thing to do to go directly home when followed, because this provided a potential criminal with the information of where you lived, enabling them to return later to do harm, possibly better prepared, armed, and/or with someone else to help them.  Emphatically, going home when followed was  discouraged by the LEOs. My parents’ solution was just to get rid of the ‘fun’ car after the third time law enforcement came to the house.

The repeated admonitions over the years that being followed was bad, and NOT to let someone follow you home resonated very much for me in the context of the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman incident.
Given how emphatically law enforcement had stressed avoiding having someone following you home, and given the attention being followed is promoted as suspicious and threatening behavior, without attributing any motive to the decision, it seems oddly deficient that the prosecution did not make that point during the Zimmerman trial.  It also seems to me a very good reason that the Florida and other states with SYG laws should amend them consistent with the proposed Trayvon Martin legislation that would remove SYG as a defense in cases where the shooter follows or pursues the person they shoot.

We can’t have it both ways; either we should stop the police and others advising people to be afraid when they are being followed, or we should not excuse it as legal and legitimate behavior.  Because otherwise we are creating an effective conflict between what law enforcement and other public and personal safety experts tell us, and the law as it applies to following someone who becomes a victim, in our courts of law.

The GOP phenomena of right wing smart / dumb people

What Bill Maher fails to correctly identify here is that there is a key element of willful ignorance, where these people make the CHOICE to ignore all the evidence to the contrary in forming their opinions, to conform to their ideology instead. This is a phenomena reported on by author Chris Mooney, a well-regarded science reporter and author, who has documented in his books, including "The Republican War on Science" and "The Republican Brain: the Science of Why They Deny Science and Reality" the scientific studies that SHOWS how those who are conservative and well educated, and intelligent, tend to believe they are SO intelligent, that it justifies them ignoring all of the factual information that SHOULD direct and inform their opinion. It is the bizarre phenomena of "I'm smart so I can ignore facts - WHEN I WANT TO" thinking.

This is not uniquely an observation from Bill Maher for comedic purposes; this is REAL, and it is a very REAL problem, of odd and dangerous combining of fact/fiction, reality conflicting with belief/ideology on the right.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Guns, Homicides and Suicides, and the U.S. Constitution

 Guns, Murders and Suicides, and the U.S. Constitution
Lincoln, sulpted in stone on Mount Rushmore

cross-posted from IVN:

Although it is a statement widely attributed to Abraham Lincoln relating to a temporary suspension of habeas corpus under the Suspension Clause of the Constitution (Article 1, Section 9, clause 2), the first actual recorded quote that the U.S. Constitution is “not a suicide pact” was made by Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson in his Terminiello v. Chicago dissent, not quite 100 years later. It was used again almost 15 years later in another SCOTUS decision in 1963, also about freedom of speech and the First Amendment.

That should apply as well to the Second Amendment.

What the U.S. Constitution IS supposed to be and do, instead of functioning as a suicide pact,  is explicitly spelled out in the preamble:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
In that larger context, looking at how we interpret and implement the Constitution, it is fair to look at the Constitution generally, and the Second Amendment specifically so that it is not LITERALLY a suicide pact, which permits gun violence that kills large numbers of Americans (and for that matter, others who are not citizens, but who are within the borders of the U.S.).

Saturday, July 20, 2013 is the one year anniversary of the Aurora, Colorado mass shooting, and a little more than six months from the Sandy Hook, Colorado mass shooting.    It is worth looking at both murders and suicides, especially mass shootings, together because most mass shootings are murder suicides.  We have  some 17,000 suicides a year using firearms, which is HALF of all suicides.
Gun Murder and Suicide Rate Guns, Murders and Suicides, and the U.S. Constitution
In looking at homicides, in comparison to other countries in the world, which is a fair comparison for a larger sense of how our constitution is functioning to assess and evaluate how successfully or unsuccessfully  our interpretation of the constitution is working to fulfill its expressed  purpose in the preamble, which is in part about the public safety of citizens, not only from foreign threats, but from our fellow Americans.  In that regard, expressed as homicides per 100,000 persons, we are second behind Pakistan, and FAR higher than for example, Australia, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Korea, Sweden and the United Kingdom.  The graph below reflects data from the UN Office of Drugs and Crime; if you use the FBI statistics, we fare even worse in the comparison, by about 0.5%.
Murders per 100000 Guns, Murders and Suicides, and the U.S. Constitution
The Preamble specifically mentions the Posterity of the founding fathers and other citizens of the United States.  Such a reference to posterity inherently presumes that the offspring of citizens survive to enjoy all of the benefits outlined in the preamble, and are safe from firearms injury.  Therefore, not only when we think of the Sandy Hook mass shooting but the other statistics of children dying from firearms, and being injured by firearms, this is a significant concern in the context of the preamble of the Constitution.
From a USA Today news article earlier this year:
In 2010, 15,576 children and teenagers were injured by firearms — three times more than the number of U.S. soldiers injured in the war in Afghanistan, according to the defense fund.
Nationally, guns still kill twice as many children and young people than cancer, five times as many than heart disease and 15 times more than infection, according to the New England Journal of Medicine.
“We see guns as much of a threat in their life as we used to see bacteria and viruses,” said Dr. Judith S. Palfrey, a past president of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the co-author of the New England journal report. “If you look at what’s actually killing children and disabling children, guns is one of the major things.”
Although the following comparison is a bit dated, because the pattern of these statistics has remained relatively constant over the past twenty years, it is worth noting, in looking at ‘Posterity’, to evaluate how well we are interpreting and implementing the U.S. Constitution, including the 2nd Amendment.  The original figures come from the Center for Disease Control, by way of the American Bar Association web site:
  • The overall firearm-related death rate among U.S. children younger than 15 years of age is nearly 12 times higher than among children in 25 other industrialized countries combined.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 1997;46:101-105.
  •  The United States has the highest rate of youth homicides and suicides among the 26 wealthiest nations.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Rates of homicide, suicide, and firearm-related death among children: 26 industrialized countries.
MMWR. 1997;46:101-105
Here is what is wrong with how we have applied the 2nd Amendment, especially in permitting lax gun regulation, which contributes heavily to gun violence, both homicides and suicides, and to gun accidents, and which includes making it relatively easy for mass murders to acquire firearms to use in mass shootings.  An excerpt from the Huff Po around the time of the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting murder/suicide makes it clear:
How freely do guns flow in the United States compared with the world’s other industrialized countries?
According to GunPolicy.org, run by Philip Alpers, a firearms analyst at The University of Sydney, the United States is unusual with what Alpers described as the “two pillars” of gun control: licensing gun owners and registering weapons.
“You are basically the only country in the developed world that doesn’t license gun owners across the board and you are almost alone in not registering guns across the board,” Alpers said. “It’s very difficult to compare [the U.S.] with others, because you simply don’t have those things.” New Zealand and Canada are the other developed countries that don’t register guns across the board, Alpers said. The two countries register handguns and military-style semi-automatics, but not rifles and shotguns.
The Small Arms Survey, an independent research project based in Geneva, noted that of the 28 countries it surveyed for its 2011 report on civilian firearm possession, only two consider civilian ownership of a firearm a basic right: the U.S. and Yemen. But even Yemen has begun clamping down on civilian guns, Alpers said.
It is literally not a suicide pact regarding guns used in homicides or suicides or accidental shootings, and when it becomes such a large problem that it is resulting in the deaths and injuries of so many Americans, where much stricter limitations on firearms could dramatically reduce those deaths, injuries, as well as the fear of threat and intimidation by firearms in the hands of our fellow Americans, it is time to follow the wisdom attributed to Lincoln in the 19th century, and specifically expressed by Supreme Court Justices Jackson and Goldberg, respectively at different times in the 20th century.  It is time for we the people to be protected from we the people with guns, not just the crazy ones, not just the mass shooters, but all the other people who pose a significant safety and public health risk to the rest of us who should be more rigorously regulated for ourselves and posterity.

It's Been a Year

Aurora, One Year Ago Today

We have made it too easy for too many people to buy lethal weapons, who then use them to kill, injure, threaten and intimidate. In every other civilized, developed country of the world recognized as free by virtue of representative government, and operating under rule of law, not the law of the jungle, lethal force is not allowed as well excuse and permit it, and lethal force is not possessed by so many with so little regulation.  We have given to much license to armed vigilantes to shoot people, without accountability or consequence.

Our failure to better control, limit and regulate firearms and firearms violence is not just uncivilized, it is ill advised, it is suicidal.  We are losing American lives at a rate unprecedented in the developed world.  We lose more children to firearms violence every year than we do to terrorism in the U.S.  We have more occurrences of mass shootings than any comparable country.

Current  right wing legislation and policies like stand your ground encourage conflict and aggression; current conservative obsessions with firearms, current threats from the right of insurgency, insurrection and sedition are all detrimental to a law abiding, safe and civil society; our gun culture, in its present form and the amount of guns in less than ideal hands are threats against the public health and safety.

The preamble of the U.S. Constitution, the original document before the 2nd Amendment was added was very clear in the intent of government and our laws under that government:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Lax gun laws results in injustice, a lack of domestic tranquility and stability.  We do NOT rely on civilian guns for our common defense, because we now have a more than adequate military for that purpose.  Firearm violence is not consistent with the general welfare, as a horrific public health danger, OR liberty.

Take a moment today to remember the victims of our lax gun laws and the violent insanity of James Holmes a year ago today.  Don't stop there; support changing our lax gun laws, instead of the insanity of letting guns be too easily purchased by those who should not have them.  The second Amendment should not be allowed to negate the intent of the Constitution through poor interpretation or stupidity.

The Constitution, as it has been noted, is not a suicide pact, and that includes not a suicide pact for people like those killed in Aurora, Colorado to be the victims of gun violence.  While the pro-gun advocates like to use the phrase "guns don't kill people, people do", the reality is that guns make it easier for more people to kill themselves and other people easily.  Without guns, and easy access to guns, that occurs far less often.

Friday, July 19, 2013

This is what Racism looks like - experiences that are dramatically different, based on skin color

The Poop Scoop on False Stories about Protesters - this time, false stories about anti-abortion legislation protesters in Texas

cross-posted from Penigma at IVN:

The Poop Scoop – an Update on the Dirt on Fake Protester Stories, (not Zimmerman Verdict protesters this time, but the anti-abortion legislation protesters in Texas)

 The Poop Scoop   an Update on the Dirt on Fake Protester Stories, (not Zimmerman Verdict protesters this time, but the anti abortion law protesters in Texas)
Law Enforcement manhandling an anti-abortion legislation protester

Earlier this week I wrote about the misinformation, and misleading by various law enforcement, media, and bloggers about the Zimmerman Verdict Protesters.  

We saw it in LA, with false claims from the LAPD and NBC, claiming $15k in damage to the Hollywood W Hotel.

We saw this in the right wing blogosphere false reporting of two white men killed by a group of black men over a “Free Zimmerman” bumper sticker THAT DID NOT EXIST; it was a drug deal gone bad, where two white men were  killed by another white man and two black friends, and there was NO BUMPER STICKER, and no conflict over anything related to Zimmerman or the Trayvon Martin killing.

We saw something similar in Baltimore, where a woman falsely claimed on social media that black teens assaulted an hispanic man, while yelling “This is for Trayvon” that also DID NOT HAPPEN.

This may be the best inaccurate story about protesters story of the week: the claim by the Texas Department of Public Safety that they had confiscated 1 jar of urine and 18 jars of (suspected) poop, along with tampons and other feminine hygiene products is WRONG.  Subsequent investigation of this claim by the Texas DPS has been unable to find any member of law enforcement who made such a confiscation, after checking with those who were at the doors, confiscating tampons. Yes, there was a fear by a male Republican legislator that outraged women might rain tampons down from above onto legislators, which led to the unprecedented confiscation of such personal items, and some very horrific abuses of women in the course of law enforcement doing so, that have been reported elsewhere.

The right wing blogosphere, like Hot Air, has not, so far as I've seen, corrected their misinformation OR their unwarranted condescension in which they wrap their fact-averse 'news and commentary'.

Like the mandatory medically unnecessary ultrasound legislation, this appears to be intended  both to embarrass and humiliate women regarding a personal and private matter of biology, while at the same time, additionally wounding them in the wallet.

But that effort backfired on the Republican legislators, who were shamed into discontinuing the confiscation after that news went viral.  In the uproar of additional outrage generated by the confiscations, the Texas Department of Public Safety, in order to justify their actions, claimed in an official statement that they had also confiscated 1 jar of urine and 18 jars of poop from women entering the Texas legislature, with the implication being that these items were intended to be used to stop the proceedings and attack Republicans passing the anti-abortion legislation.

THAT was not true either.  The story has changed several times, but apparently the actual officers on duty were not briefed, or perhaps declined to join in the disinformation effort.  No law enforcement officer found ANY protester armed with jars or bottles of pee and/or pooh.  THAT DID NOT HAPPEN.  Then the story changed to the version that women were offered the opportunity to leave with their jars or bottles of offending substances, or dispose of them in trash cans…….. but that doesn’t appear to be validated by statements from law enforcement either, and is, as stories go, considerably less plausible.  It was at this point, apparently that the version of events changed to containers of ‘suspected’ feces and urine.

As MSNBC cable news host and parent to a toddler Chris Hayes noted in reporting on the story progression, it is possible both quickly and definitively to determine if suspected pee and poo are the real thing.  One need not remain in suspense.  Personally, I found the notion that this material was being transported in jars and bottles oddly cumbersome and impractical for delivery to the alleged intended targets, but that’s my odd streak of tactical and strategic thinking kicking in.  Further, if this were a serious concern, in order to prevent such an occurrence, it would be necessary to bar the protesting women from the state house restrooms, or to search them as they left them, if you are logical about preventing such a threat from being carried out.

It is NOT, emphatically, my intent to be crude or vulgar here, but rather to point out that logically this brought into question the factual nature and validity of the original story; it was a vigorously waving little red flag that triggered my skepticism when I first heard this.  That no protester there reported this kind of interaction, from that side of the protests, also seemed an odd lack of verification for this story, while many women reported in different venues about the tampon confiscation.

Every story should be read or heard or viewed with a healthy sense of skepticism checking it for factual accuracy, or at least allowing that some or all of it might be factually inaccurate.  But when one side has an obvious advantage to misinformation, or possibly disinformation (deliberately misleading AND inaccurate information), then such discrepancies or gaps in logic become more significant in alerting that news requires additional diligence and verification.

The only ‘dirty business’ in the Texas Legislature relating to the protesters of the anti-abortion legislation pushed through in the second special session appears to have been the right wing politics, not in the actions of the protesters.

Why SYG is BAD Law

Photo: Likelihood of killing to be found justifiable. 

So, do these numbers shock you?

Black Humor, so to speak.....

Smile and say "the moon is made of green CHEEEEEEEEEEEESE".....


Comb your hair and shine your shoes: Friday is picture day! The Cassini spacecraft will be pointed at Earth on July 19 from a distance of 898 million miles (1.44 billion kilometers). The imaging will begin at 5:27 EDT and will last 15 minutes. Be sure to smile and wave!

More info: http://1.usa.gov/12uSXhM

Photo via: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Social Media Zings Brilliantly on Right Wing Obstructionism and the Filibuster - Zing it LOUD

Thank you again FB, and this guy in particular:

Social Media Zings Brilliant Commentary on the Texas Legislative Insanity

Thank you FB.........

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Evolution, Global Warming - the right doesn't embrace or understand science


Conservative Extremists try to spin, and then just lie, about racial differences under Kill at Will statutes

According to Opposing Views reporting on the crazy extremist right wing nut jobs (RWNJs for short) over at the Daily Caller, black people benefit more than white people from Shoot First/Kill at Will/ 'Stand Your Ground' laws.

Except of course, they don't. The opposite is true.

But we have the RWNJs over at the Daily Caller cherry picking information so as to misrepresent the data. It is just one more example of conservative lying, in this case with statistics; the more their position fails, the less plausible their arguments and data, the more the right resorts to up is down, left is right, red is blue, inside is outside arguments.

This is a better, more accurate, honest, fair and damning analysis, from FBI statistics, of how Kill at Will laws really work, reflecting the enormously disparate outcomes, based on race.  The reality is that under our normal laws, there is disparity; change those laws to Stand Your Ground laws, and that disparity becomes much much greater disfavoring people of color, and disproportionately favoring white people.

Read the article that accompanies the graph below:

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Grossly Inaccurate Reporting about Zimmerman Verdict Rioting - more inaccurate than usual

Police officers in riot gear patrol the streets
following a prayer vigil for Trayvon Martin on July 16, 2013,
in Los Angeles. More than 3,000 people were arrested
 in LA during the Watts Riots.
And Tuesday night? Thirteen people.
Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
There have been multiple reports which are in turn being widely circulated by the right wing fact-averse media (including the blogosphere) that there were violent riots as a result of the George Zimmerman verdict.  Other sources, like Dave Weigel over at Slate for example, also repeated the rumor as fact.

Apparently when people have been disappointed in the lack of violence, they’ve just made stuff up instead, and too many people don't check it to see if it passes a fact check.

We had the claim, reported by NBC and other news media, attributing the statement to the LAPD,  that there was $15,000 dollars worth of damage done to the luxury W Hotel.  I called the W Hotel after reading a couple of reports that said this was factually inaccurate, including the Brad Blog.  After it was circulated by NBC, other news sources picked up the story, and republished it, apparently without fact checking it.  Presumably they simply assumed that if NBC or the LAPD said it, it was true.  I made the phone calls, because after such contradictory reporting, I didn’t trust anyone’s fact checking except my own.  Then I fact checked some other, different accounts of Zimmerman verdict violence.

The Brad Blog was correct.  In fact, the Brad Blog did a superb job of looking at similar sensational and inaccurate reporting by this NBC station previously.  It is worth a read.  Then read about the OTHER claims of riots relating to the Zimmerman verdict that aren’t true EITHER.

For the most part, protests in the wake of the “not guilty” verdict for George Zimmerman in Florida, have been peaceful here in L.A., though, at times, it seems as if NBC’s local affiliate, NBC4 hoped they might not be.
has confirmed with a spokesman at the W Hotel in Hollywood that “no protestors ever entered” the facility, even as NBC4′s NewsChopper4 reporter Megan Reyes told both the studio and viewers watching their live web stream of protests on Sunday night that protesters were “getting very rowdy” and had “broken glass” at the hotel. She cited no source for her reporting, and NBC4 did not respond to The BRAD BLOG’s request last night via Twitter for details on Reyes’ sourcing.
By Monday on NBC4, false reports of “broken glass” had turned into false reports of “$15,000 worth of damage” at the hotel, after reporter Tony Guinyard informed viewers that protesters “stormed” the hotel and, as an LAPD Commander, on camera, confirmed that report.
All of that, however, was completely disputed by two W Hotel officials we contacted on Monday…

GOP -= Party of Stupid, Party of Fact Denial


It's Official! Gay marriage is now legal in the UK!

Fair, or just 'fair' for the 'fairer skinned'?

We need to be dropping something....

This is vigilante thinking - but hey, it sells guns, so the right is good with that

Privatization is pushed by the right for one reason only -- to get public money into special interest private pockets, a form of looting tax payers money

Cashing in on Kids: 139 ALEC Bills in 2013 Promote a Private, For-Profit Education Model

Despite widespread public opposition to the education privatization agenda, at least 139 bills or state budget provisions reflecting American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) education bills have been introduced in 43 states and the District of Columbia in just the first six months of 2013. Thirty-one have become law.

Check out a chart of all the bills and read more about it: http://www.prwatch.org/news/2013/07/12175/cashing-kids139-alec-bills-2013-promote-private-profit-education-model

GOP = not for small government, just small minded and with only the tiniest sense of decency

Irony, or just plaing GOP Hypocrisy?

And some people don't know the NRA is a right wing white crazy bunch of birthers and other lunatics - with guns and expressed violent intentions.

Sack Brilliance

Safety On, Safety Off - Guns in the hands of idiots = Danger to ALL of us

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Problem with Superficial Thinking, Assumptions and Fears

By way of actor George Takei's facebook page; Takei as a child was interned in one of the camps for Japanese Americans during World War II.  There the assumption was that Japanese Americans were un-Americans.  Apparently for some people with guns that is also true of black people in hoodies.

The Howard University School of Medicine, making a strong point.


I believe this says all that needs to be said in support of AG Eric Holder when he made the statement that the Trayvon Martin killing was unnecessary.

Guns don't kill people; stupid, fearful people with guns who operate unsafely and with poor judgement kill people - when they should not.  This is why we should not have widespread carrying of guns except by law enforcement.  We know that the more guns in circulation, the more deaths, injuries, and intimidation that occurs with them.

What an UGLY imagination the Gun Huggers have...

GOP = Hypocrisy

Tearing the fabric of life

Kill at Will Laws Are Bad

A Brilliant Sack Cartoon Commenting on Kill-at-Will Laws

Neighborhood Wash/Watch -- the blood stains are still there, not only in this death but in many other deaths. 

Shoot First/Kill at Will/Stand Your Ground laws result, consistently, in more homicides, but not in less crime.

From today's STrib: