• Tips gratefully accepted here. Thanks!:

  • Recent Comments

    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on The GOP thinks we are helpless…
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on The GOP thinks we are helpless…
    eurobrat on It’s vile. Don’t ignore i…
    jmac on It’s vile. Don’t ignore i…
    riverdaughter on The GOP thinks we are helpless…
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on The GOP thinks we are helpless…
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on The GOP thinks we are helpless…
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on It’s vile. Don’t ignore i…
    Erick on Yep
    wynne05 on It’s vile. Don’t ignore i…
    William on It’s vile. Don’t ignore i…
    riverdaughter on It’s vile. Don’t ignore i…
    riverdaughter on It’s vile. Don’t ignore i…
    jmac on It’s vile. Don’t ignore i…
    riverdaughter on It’s vile. Don’t ignore i…
  • Categories


  • Tags

    abortion Add new tag Afghanistan Al Franken Anglachel Atrios bankers Barack Obama Bernie Sanders big pharma Bill Clinton cocktails Conflucians Say Dailykos Democratic Party Democrats Digby DNC Donald Trump Donna Brazile Economy Elizabeth Warren feminism Florida Fox News General Glenn Beck Glenn Greenwald Goldman Sachs health care Health Care Reform Hillary Clinton Howard Dean John Edwards John McCain Jon Corzine Karl Rove Matt Taibbi Media medicare Michelle Obama Michigan misogyny Mitt Romney Morning Edition Morning News Links Nancy Pelosi New Jersey news NO WE WON'T Obama Obamacare OccupyWallStreet occupy wall street Open thread Paul Krugman Politics Presidential Election 2008 PUMA racism Republicans research Sarah Palin sexism Single Payer snark Social Security Supreme Court Terry Gross Texas Tim Geithner unemployment Wall Street WikiLeaks women
  • Archives

  • History

    February 2010
    S M T W T F S
     123456
    78910111213
    14151617181920
    21222324252627
    28  
  • RSS Paul Krugman: Conscience of a Liberal

  • The Confluence

    The Confluence

  • RSS Suburban Guerrilla

    • Republicans don’t know how to govern
      And every Democrat, everywhere, needs to repeat it over and over: Terrific @jamescdownie: "Had Republicans gotten to work months ago, this disastrous lapse in relief could have been avoided. But when the party’s leader has as much interest in policy details as a dog in vegetables, why should we expect anything different? https://t.co/NaA8IcGdZn — (((Hel […]
  • RSS Ian Welsh

    • American and Sending Your Children Back To School In September? Bad Idea
      OK, full argument incoming, but for the folks who only read the first paragraph: if you’re American outside of a very few Northeastern states and  can avoid sending your children back to school without going to jail, you probably shouldn’t. Recently, in a 3 day summer overnight camp, 44% of attendees got Covid-19. They didn’t […]
  • Top Posts

Saturday Morning News and Views

Good Morning Conflucians!!!!

A giant 8.8 magnitude earthquake has hit Chile and triggered a tsunami

President Michelle Bachelet confirmed 47 deaths and said more were possible. Telephone and power lines were down, making damage assessments difficult in the early morning darkness.

“Never in my life have I experienced a quake like this, it’s like the end of the world,” one man told local television from the city of Temuco, where the quake damaged buildings and forced staff to evacuate the regional hospital.

According to The New York Times,

The quake downed buildings and houses in Santiago and knocked out a major bridge connecting the northern and southern sections of the country.

It struck at 3:34 a.m. local time and was centered about 200 miles southwest of Santiago, at a depth of 22 miles, the U.S. Geological Survey reported. The epicenter was some 70 miles from Concepcion, Chile’s second-largest city, where more than 200,000 people live.

Phone lines were down in Concepcion as of 7:30 a.m. and no reports were coming out of that area. The quake in Chile was 1,000 times more powerful than the magnitude 7.0 earthquake that caused widespread damage in Haiti on Jan 12, killing at least 230,000, earthquake experts reported on CNN International.

The U.S. Geological Survey and eyewitnesses reported more than a dozen aftershocks, including two measuring magnitude 6.2 and 6.9.

Only hours earlier, there was a 6.9 magnitude earthquake off the southern coast of Japan. A tsunami was predicted, but did not take place.

The late late night TC crowd was discussing this insane video of Trent Franks (R-Arizona) being asked about hate radio and Rush Limbaugh and then doing a quick pirouette to talking about abortion and “killing innocent babies.” He calls Obama “the abortion president” and he thinks African Americans were better off under slavery because (he claims) “half of all black babies are aborted.” Oh, and Rush Limbaugh made fun of Michael J. Fox because he cares so much about humanity.

Just who is voting for politicians like this? Thinking about the possible answers to that question gives me the creeps.

And speaking of forced servitude, why don’t they just set Tilikum the serial killer whale free?

Three years ago, Russ Rector, a Fort Lauderdale dolphin trainer turned marine mammal activist, said he wrote SeaWorld a letter warning it was pushing its show mammals too hard to wow audiences, thereby inviting attacks on trainers.

On Wednesday, a killer whale named Tilikum implicated in two previous fatalities attacked a trainer during a show at the Orlando theme park, dragging her around like a toy and drowning her in front of horrified visitors.

“I warned them this was going to happen,” Rector said. “Happy animals don’t kill their trainers.”

Another opinion:

Naomi Rose, a senior scientist for the Humane Society of the United States, which has campaigned at marine parks, said Tilikum’s reputation was well known and that SeaWorld specifically forbade trainers from entering the orca’s tank.

“He clearly has some sort of issue with people in the water with him,” she said of the orca.

Rose and many marine mammal activists believe the stress of life in a tank is acute for orcas, large animals that roam deep waters in close-knit pods.

“They’re moody,” she said. Rector, who has campaigned for years to free Lolita, a female orca that has spent nearly four decades in captivity at the Seaquarium in Miami, says it leaves them “demented.”

Lolita, Rose said, has not been linked to any serious attacks on trainers, but its old tank-mate, Hugo, died of a cranial bleeding in 1980 that activists blamed on the orca ramming its head against the sides of a small tank.

Can you blame a whale for getting mad when he is kept in a tiny container and forced to perform tricks for humans instead of being able to swim freely in the ocean? And get this, another trainer says Dawn Brancheau’s horrible death was all her own fault.

A former co-worker told the station that trainer Dawn Brancheau was to blame when her hair floated over the mouth of killer whale Tilikum. The massive creature responded by dragging her under Wednesday, and she drowned.

Thad Lacinak, a former head trainer at SeaWorld, said the trainers knew to stay away from the whale’s mouth. “The protocol was not to be around Tilikum’s mouth while you’re laying down,” he said.

Reporter Emily Turner explained that Lacinak said Brancheau “became too comfortable with the animal she loved so much.”

And can you believe there are still pictures and video on-line of Breacheau’s last moments? What is wrong with us? Set these beautiful, intelligent animals free!

Did you know that Matt Taibbi and an expat named Mark Ames ran an alternative newspaper in Russia for years? I didn’t. Yesterday I posted a link to an article by Ames on Ayn Rand’s obsession with a vicious serial killer who liked to dismember little girls.

From there, I was directed to Ames’ website and learned that this month’s Vanity Fair has an in-depth story on the “The unlikely life and sudden death of The Exile, Russia’s angriest newspaper.” Ames is also the author of a book on workplace and school shootings in which he argues that Americans don’t want to face what is really going on in this rage killings–that bullying and alienation in schools and workplaces are driving both kids and adults to the point where they just can’t take it anymore. Sounds controversial yet interesting. I reserved it at my local library.

President Obama got up really early this morning so he could offer more “compromises” to Republicans in his weekly radio address.

“I am eager and willing to move forward with members of both parties on health care if the other side is serious about coming together to resolve our differences and get this done. But I also believe that we cannot lose the opportunity to meet this challenge,” Obama said.

“The tens of millions of men and women who cannot afford their health insurance cannot wait another generation for us to act. Small businesses cannot wait. Americans with pre-existing conditions cannot wait. State and federal budgets cannot sustain these rising costs.

The President didn’t mention that the bill he supports doesn’t do anything to help lower health care costs for ordinary Americans or prevent insurance companies from refusing to pay for care for people with preexisting conditions.

This article in New Scientist reports on research suggesting that ancient humans may have communicated in a written language much earlier than previously thought: The writing on the cave wall

Until now, the accepted view has been that our ancestors underwent a “creative explosion” around 30,000 to 40,000 years ago, when they suddenly began to think abstractly and create rock art. This idea is supported by the plethora of stunning cave paintings, like those at Chauvet, which started to proliferate across Europe around this time. Writing, on the other hand, appeared to come much later, with the earliest records of a pictographic writing system dating back to just 5000 years ago.

Few researchers, though, had given any serious thought to the relatively small and inconspicuous marks around the cave paintings. The evidence of humanity’s early creativity, they thought, was clearly in the elaborate drawings.

While some scholars like Clottes had recorded the presence of cave signs at individual sites, Genevieve von Petzinger, then a student at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada, was surprised to find that no one had brought all these records together to compare signs from different caves. And so, under the supervision of April Nowell, also at the University of Victoria, she devised an ambitious masters project. She compiled a comprehensive database of all recorded cave signs from 146 sites in France, covering 25,000 years of prehistory from 35,000 to 10,000 years ago.

What emerged was startling: 26 signs, all drawn in the same style, appeared again and again at numerous sites (see illustration). Admittedly, some of the symbols are pretty basic, like straight lines, circles and triangles, but the fact that many of the more complex designs also appeared in several places hinted to von Petzinger and Nowell that they were meaningful – perhaps even the seeds of written communication.

I’ll wrap this up with a feel-good story from a few days ago about a 3-year-old girl who was saved from freezing to death by her dog Blue: Police Credit Dog With Saving Lost Girl’s Life

“She was able to stay warm with the dog. And it probably was one of things that saved her life. It was extremely cold out here,” Sgt. Jeff Newnum of the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office told KPHO, a CBS news affiliate in Phoenix. “God watched over her last night.”

Victoria Bensch vanished while playing outside with the family’s Queensland Heeler around 4:30 p.m. on Thursday. Search teams scoured the rocky terrain surrounding Victoria’s Cordes Lakes, Ariz., home, but as the night wore on, and temperatures dipped into the 30s, there was still no sign of her.

When the sun rose Friday morning, a rescue helicopter spotted movement below. It was Blue, hovering close to the missing girl, nearly half a mile from their home.

Even as medics approached, Blue kept Victoria, who was only wearing a T-shirt, pants and tennis shoes, safe.

“I think the dog was initially apprehensive of me. I was a little concerned he might bite me when I first walked up, but as I just walked right past the dog, the [animal] realized I was there to help,”

Awwww….

So what are you reading this morning?

HAVE A STUPENDOUS SATURDAY!!!!!!!

Friday Morning News and Views

Good Morning Conflucians! TGIF.

The weather continues to be very very strange. We in southern New England are being left out of another terrible winter storm. I’m reading that there is an “intense winter storm” in the Northeast:

A huge, windy winter storm lingered Friday over the Northeast, cutting power to at least a half-million customers, fanning a hotel fire in New Hampshire, and disrupting air and road travel across the region.
Power failures were so bad in New Hampshire that even the state Emergency Operations Center was operating on a generator. Winds across the region were near 50 mph as utility companies prepared for even more outages due to toppled trees and near-blizzard conditions.

Public Service of New Hampshire, the state’s largest utility, reported power cut to at least 237,000 customers and said it would take days before everyone’s lights flickered back on.

New Hampshire? How did this storm miss us here in Boston? I’m looking out my window and I see sun. We did have strong winds blowing around last night and some rain, but that was it.

Officials in Massachusetts said the storm had knocked out power to 100,000 homes and businesses by early Friday, mostly in the northeastern part of the state. The numbers were 200,000 in New York, mostly in the Hudson Valley north of New York City, 25,000 in Vermont and more than 1,500 in New Jersey.

In New York City, 10 inches of snow had fallen before dawn and more was expected. A man was killed by a falling snow-laden tree branch in Central Park, one of at least three deaths being blamed on the storm.

The storm it somewhere in Massachusetts apparently, but not in my part of the state. I hope all you Conflucians who did get it are surviving okay.

In other news, the President held a “health care summit” yesterday. I missed the whole thing, but I got updates from the live blogs here at TC. It didn’t sound to me like much got accomplished. I don’t see a whole lot of new reaction in the big media outlets. I wonder if the whole thing is just going to fall down the memory hole.

Via right wing blog Hot Air, self-important pompous ass and CNN talking head David Gergen thinks “the Republicans had their best day in years and that they were intellectually superior to the Democrats in their arguments. Is he for real?

The Boston Globe lists some “exchanges” that took place at the “summit.” It’s a pretty short article for the highlights of a 7 hour meeting.

Jake Tapper posted a kind of open thread at his blog Political Punch, but didn’t even get many comments. This one was pretty good:

What an interesting look into the fall-out of “accelerated promotion.” You have a junior member of congress who catapults into the presidency after serving only 28 months in the body. The setting yesterday revealed Obama’s continued need to prove himself worthy of his title. What he lacks in experience and rapport with other members of congress is replaced with bravado-the only card he can play..as if his arrogance in some way makes up for his lack of qualifications in the eyes of the people in that room-most of whom, up until last year, vastly “out-ranked” him.

I think most Americans have just about given up on this administration doing anything for anyone but giant corporations.

Looking at more liberal media outlets, Lindsay Beyerstein at Alternet had this to say:

arguably, the real purpose of the summit was to captivate the attention of the media while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., figured out how to push ahead with health care reform through budget reconciliation — a parliamentary procedure that would sidestep the filibuster and the 60-vote supermajority required to overcome it, allowing Democrats to pass Senate legislation by a simple majority of 51 votes.

I still have no idea what is in this bill. Does anyone know? If they still plan to force me to buy crap insurance I can’t afford, I’m not sure what to do.

At Talking Points Memo, Greg Sargent tries to put the best possible face on Obama’s performance, while not sounding very confident about it. Sargent seems to agree with Beyerstein that the only point of the summit was to put the Republicans’ arguments on display and then go ahead and push the bill through. But did Americans get the message that Obama wanted them to get? I don’t know.

In other news, David Patterson is in more trouble in New York.

A range of political allies and even some close friends urged Mr. Paterson privately and publicly to end his bid for election. They said his political standing had been irreparably damaged by revelations on Thursday that the State Police had contacted the woman pressing a domestic violence complaint against a close aide, and by the allegation that the governor had spoken with her a day before she was due back in court.

While no prominent Democrat called for Mr. Paterson to resign, several said it would be impossible for him to both govern and run a campaign while dealing with the allegations, which the governor has asked Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo to investigate. Other officials said that if an inquiry showed that Mr. Paterson tried to influence the woman’s decision not to continue the case, he should resign.

While I was at Alternet, I found this fascinating and horrifying article by Mark Ames on Ayn Rand, who is the favorite author of many of the public officials who are destroying our country:

Ayn Rand, Hugely Popular Author and Inspiration to Right-Wing Leaders, Was a Big Admirer of Serial Killer

There’s something deeply unsettling about living in a country where millions of people froth at the mouth at the idea of giving health care to the tens of millions of Americans who don’t have it, or who take pleasure at the thought of privatizing and slashing bedrock social programs like Social Security or Medicare. It might not be as hard to stomach if other Western countries also had a large, vocal chunk of the population who thought like this, but the US is seemingly the only place where right-wing elites can openly share their distaste for the working poor. Where do they find their philosophical justification for this kind of attitude?

The answer is Ayn Rand’s writings. Among her fans are

former Fed Chair Alan Greenspan and SEC Commissioner Chris Cox — along with other notable right-wing Republicans such as Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Rush Limbaugh, and South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford.

The loudest of all the Republicans, right-wing attack-dog pundits and the Teabagger mobs fighting to kill health care reform and eviscerate “entitlement programs” increasingly hold up Ayn Rand as their guru. Sales of her books have soared in the past couple of years; one poll ranked “Atlas Shrugged” as the second most influential book of the 20th century, after The Bible

And according to Rand’s biographer, the novelist based her most famous male characters, John Galt and Howard Roark, on a serial killer named Walter Hickman, with whom Rand was obsessed and described as “genuinely beautiful soul.” You can read more about Hickman at the link. This is a must-read.

Speaking of serial killers, I’m guessing Rand would also have been an admirer of Amy Bishop. The latest news on Bishop’s case is just incredible. There’s video at the link of Norfolk County DA William Keating making an announcement last night that the case of Bishop’s shooting of her younger brother Seth in 1986 has been reopened, and he is asking for an inquest. The reasons for this are first that Bishop’s parents have refused to speak to investigators and second that new evidence has been found.

Keating also said there were inconsistencies in the police reports, including two different accounts of Seth Bishop’s body position when he was found, with one saying he was face-up and another saying he was face-down.

And he said that a crime scene photo from that era showed that next to the rifle shells found in Amy Bishop’s bedroom, there was a newspaper with an article that chronicled a similar attack to the one she allegedly committed.

Keating said he questioned whether the shooting was truly accidental, and he added that an inquest could lead to a homicide charge against Amy Bishop.

During the press conference, Keating said that the article lying next to Bishop’s bed was about someone who killed a family member and then escaped by stealing a car from a dealership, which is exactly what she tried to do. What more can come out about this woman? My only question is, was she planning to kill her brother or her father? The father is the one she had had an argument with just before she went upstairs to get the shotgun. Keating wants to know what that argument was about.

So what are you reading this morning, and are you buried in snow?

HAVE A FABULOUS FRIDAY!!!!!!!

News and Live Blogging the “Health Insurance Summit”

I’m watching the Health Care Insurance Summit and that seems to be the big news this morning. But there ARE other things going on in the world . . .

Hummer’s suffering is about to be ended.

The lumbering giant is being put down by patriarchal General Motors, the American motoring giant 61%-owned by the US government.

It is a sign of the times.

The former favourite of Moscow’s moneyed, and the wheels once favoured by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, has been hit by a double whammy of tighter belts in some of its markets and a dramatic shift in public opinion in others.

::

SeaWorld trainer dies in killer whale attack in Orlando

A trainer at the SeaWorld park in Orlando, Florida, has died after being attacked by a killer whale.

Witnesses said the orca had jumped and grabbed Dawn Brancheau by the waist from a poolside platform before dragging her underwater.

Guests were evacuated while fire crews tried to rescue the 40-year-old, but they were unable to revive her.

The killer whale, Tilikum, was also reportedly involved in the death of a female trainer in Canada in 1991.

Other orcas were also said to have attacked trainers at SeaWorld parks in 2006 and 2004.

::

Killer whales: what to do with captive orcas?

“They are highly social animals, that tend to live in cohesive groups, so it’s quite an artificial environment to capture them and put them in a small area,” says Dr Andrew Foote, an expert on wild orcas from the University of Aberdeen, UK

“The tragic events are a reminder that orcas are wild, strong and often unpredictable animals,” says Danny Groves, of the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS).

Wild attacks

Reports differ, but there have been up to 24 attacks by captive orcas on people.

Contrary to popular perception, attacks by wild orcas on people have also been recorded, though no-one has been hurt.

::

Plastic rubbish blights Atlantic Ocean

Scientists have discovered an area of the North Atlantic Ocean where plastic debris accumulates.

The region is said to compare with the well-documented “great Pacific garbage patch”.

Kara Lavender Law of the Sea Education Association told the BBC that the issue of plastics had been “largely ignored” in the Atlantic.

::

Obama mulls health care plan that would cover 15 million less

WaPo health columnist counters: ‘no Plan B, everyone knows it’

President Barack Obama and his aides have prepared a scaled-back healthcare reform proposal should they not have the votes in Congress to pass a broader measure, according to a report Thursday.

The new proposal would help insure roughly 15 million, about half the 31 million Senate Democrats’ original plan would aim to insure. Children would be allowed to stay on their parents’ health plan until they were 26, and the bill would expand Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance program.

The Wall Street Journal said the new proposal would “modestly” expand existing federal programs.

Things have been sort of slow in the news all week.  I think everything is on hold until this “Summit” is over — like this is going to change the world.  We’ll see.

Not again! I’m sick of it OPEN THREAD

This is me...tomorrow. And I'm not looking forward to it.

OK, I’m screaming UNCLE!!  I’ve had enough of the white stuff; and now they’re calling for up to 12″ with 60mph winds here in the Eastern areas of PA. I mean really, did mother nature *have* to add that last component?  I’ll be out and about tomorrow in this mess.  Now, what is it I’m supposed to make sure I have in my car?

Ugh…It’s a slow news day but there’s plenty to talk about so this is an OPEN THREAD.  What are you sick of?

Wednesday News You Could Probably Do Without


Wow, didn’t see this coming:

Wall Street shifting political contributions to Republicans
Commercial banks and high-flying investment firms have shifted their political contributions toward Republicans in recent months amid harsh rhetoric from Democrats about fat bank profits, generous bonuses and stingy lending policies on Wall Street.

(I’m guessing the next media darling won’t be a Democrat either)



‘Terminator’ carp threatens Great Lakes

Environmentalists say Asian carp, an invasive species of food-guzzling fish, could cause an ecological disaster if it enters Lake Michigan

(Terminator governor wreaks havoc on Golden State)



First Superman comic sells for $1m

1938 edition of Action Comics No1 with cover showing superhero lifting car sets record for comic book sale

(What a rip-off. The original Superman couldn’t even fly)


New Full-Body Scanners Coming to Two Airports
The first of 150 full-body scanners planned for U.S. airports will be installed in Boston next week, officials said Tuesday.

(I might start flying again just to gross out the surly TSA buttsniffers)


Deputy shoots bear that charges him near Tahoe
A sheriff’s deputy at Lake Tahoe shot and killed a 600-pound black bear that rushed him after wildlife officials tried to flush the hibernating animal out from under a condominium.

(This is why I support the right to arm bears)


Former Prom King Now Living Anonymously Among Commoners
Sean Fowler, the man once revered throughout the halls of Barlow High School as prom’s one true king, has for the past several years lived a meager existence among the very peasants who used to tremble at the mere mention of his name, sources reported Monday.

Bearing none of his kingly habiliments, nor the regal air which at one time daunted all who crossed his path, the deposed King Fowler has dwelled in lowly anonymity since graduating in 2002.


I usually post more stories but it’s a really slow news day. What’s happening in your neck of the woods?

Amy Bishop and Massachusetts Politics

The scene of the crime, Dec. 6, 1986

I’m still obsessed with the Amy Bishop case–most of all I’m fascinated by the events of December 6, 1986, when Bishop shot and killed her younger brother Seth. As I’m sure you all remember, Bishop is now in jail, after being charged with one count of capital murder and three counts of attempted murder for shooting six of her colleagues in the Biology Department at the University of Alabama Huntsville, three of them fatally.

Over the past few days, a great deal more information has come out and it appears more and more likely that local politics played a role in preventing Bishop from being charged with a crime in connection with the shooting of her brother Seth on December 6, 1986 in their home in Braintree, Massachusetts.

To recap, a day after the shootings in Alabama, current Braintree Chief of Police Paul Frazier released a statement in which he criticized the handling of the 1986 shooting by then Chief John Polio, now retired. Frazier had spoken to Officer Ronald Solimini, who in 1986 had arrested 21-year-old Amy Bishop and brought her to the police station to be booked.

Solimini told Chief Frazier that the file on the case had been missing at least since 1988, when Chief Polio’s successor, Chief Edward Flynn looked for it (I would love to know why he was looking for it).

Solimini said he had been in the process of booking Bishop for murder (witnesses say that word had been written on the booking sheet) when he was told by a Lieutenant to release Bishop to her parents. Supposedly the order had come down from then Chief of Police John Polio. From Chief Frazier’s statement of Feb. 13, 2010 (click on link in article to see Word document):

“I was not on duty at the time of the incident, but I recall how frustrated the members of the department were over the release of Ms. Bishop. It was a difficult time for the department as there had been three (3) shooting incidents within a short timeframe. The release of Ms. Bishop did not sit well with the police officers and I can assure you that this would not happen in this day and age.”

“It is troubling that this incident has come to light. I can assure you that the members of the Braintree Police Department maintain the highest of integrity. Since it was discovered this morning that the report is missing, I have been in contact with Mayor Joseph Sullivan. Mayor Sullivan and I have spoken with District Attorney William Keating and we will be meeting with him next week to discuss this situation. The Mayor supports a full review of this matter and agrees that we want to know where the records are.”

Rep. William Delahunt (D-MA)

After Frazier’s public statement, a March 1987 report by the State Police (PDF) was released to the public. Based on this report, then Norfolk County District Attorney William Delahunt, now a Democratic member of the House of Representatives, had ruled the the death of Seth Bishop to be accidental and no charges were filed against Amy Bishop, according to Frazier.

On Feb. 16, Braintree Mayor Joseph Sullivan announced that the missing report on the 1986 shooting (PDF) had been found in the files of an unnamed police officer. Who was that officer? No one is telling as yet.

Neither the Braintree police report nor the State Police report included the information that after shooting her brother, Amy Bishop had held two auto mechanics at gunpoint at a car dealership near her home and demanded the keys to a car, or that after leaving the dealership she had pointed her shotgun in the face of a 16-year-old boy who was working at a newspaper distribution office. It was there that Bishop was finally arrested, but not before she also trained the shotgun on police officers.

Basically, Bishop had gone on a rampage around her neighborhood on Dec. 6, 1986. After discharging her 12-gauge pump-action shotgun three times in her home, killing her brother with the second shot, she had run out of the house, tried to stop a man in a car by pointing the shotgun at him (that was in the police report for some reason), gone into the car dealership in search of a get-away car, then tried again to get a car by pointing her shotgun at a 16-year old boy. Finally, she pointed the shotgun at two Braintree police officers who were trying to disarm her, according to Boston’s WCVB, Channel 5.

A source close to the shooting investigation told NewsCenter 5 that police officers who arrested Bishop in 1986 called it the “scariest day” of their lives.

“I remember looking at her and thinking ‘She killed her brother and now she’s going to kill me,'” one officer, who did not want to be named, told NewsCenter 5’s Kelley Tuthill.

William Keating, the current Norfolk County district attorney, said Bishop should have been charged with assault with a dangerous weapon for her alleged actions after shooting her brother in 1986.

“There was a mistake in not doing it. I don’t think you can justify it,” Keating said.

Come on. Bishop should have been charged with manslaughter at the very least. The weapon she used, a 12-gauge shotgun, had to be manually pumped in order to chamber a round. And it could not just “go off” accidentally. She would have had to pull the trigger. Amy had loaded the weapon in her bedroom, where it supposedly discharged “accidentally,” blowing a hole in the wall. She had tried to cover up the hole before going downstairs. Her mother Judy Bishop later claimed she did not hear the shotgun blast upstairs. Continue reading

Monday, Lunch Break News-Hour

President Obama posted his version of a health care plan today. (Ezra says, “Actually, it’s not a plan. It’s 11 pages of fixes, modifications, and small additions to the House and Senate plans.”) I read through the whole thing twice and damned if I can tell where a couple with no kids – or a single person – fits into the thing.  Or a parent with one kid – more kids?  Am I the only person who thinks that 2 parents/2 kids definition of a family is a little rigid & possibly out of date?  In this age of technology would it be that hard to add a variety of tables for the rest of us? And: what happened to the immediate catastrophic insurance for everyone without current health insurance? (Update :: apparently we’re supposed to read the plan as an amendment to the Senate plan. Was it IN the Senate plan — I don’t remember?)

Obama Details Plan to Expand Health Care to Uninsured

The proposal would provide more money to help cash-strapped states pay for Medicaid over the next four years and eliminate the unpopular “donut hole” coverage gap in the Medicare prescription drug program.

In many respects, Mr. Obama’s measure looks much like the version the Senate passed on Christmas Eve — and indeed, senior White House officials acknowledged on a morning conference call that they had used the Senate bill as a template. But there are several critical differences that appear designed to appeal to House Democrats, who have voiced deep concerns about the Senate measure and its effects on the middle class.

(shrugging) I don’t know why I care anymore.


Now this sounds like good news:

Singing ‘rewires’ damaged brain

Teaching stroke patients to sing “rewires” their brains, helping them recover their speech, say scientists.

By singing, patients use a different area of the brain from the area involved in speech.

If a person’s “speech centre” is damaged by a stroke, they can learn to use their “singing centre” instead.

Researchers presented these findings at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in San Diego.

An ongoing clinical trial, they said, has shown how the brain responds to this “melodic intonation therapy”.


This is no surprise to me — within the past few years we’ve had four generations of our family living with us at one time. And we’re still living with my mother-in-law:

More generations living under same roof

More generations are living under the same roof and the trend will deepen as families grappling with near double-digit unemployment share expenses, a study showed on Monday.

Demand is escalating for multi-generational housing as buyers scale down during the deepest housing crisis since the Great Depression, according to a survey by Coldwell Banker Real Estate in Parsippany, New Jersey.

Thirty-seven percent of the company’s real estate agents polled in January said that in the past year, buyers were increasingly shopping for homes that fit more than one generation. Almost 70 percent of the agents said they expect economic conditions will drive still greater demand for this type of housing over the next year.

“More buyers are pooling investments, considering bringing mom and dad into it,” said Diann Patton, a Coldwell Banker real estate consumer specialist based in Grass Valley, California, in an interview with Reuters.


NATO airstrike kills at least 27 civilians

KABUL – A NATO airstrike killed at least 27 Afghan civilians, officials said Monday, in the third coalition strike this month to kill noncombatants and draw a sharp rebuke from Afghanistan’s government about endangering civilians.

In eastern Afghanistan, a suicide bomber killed 15 people on Monday, including a tribal leader who played a key role in a failed attempt to capture al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden at Tora Bora in 2001, police said.

The top NATO commander, U.S. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, apologized to President Hamid Karzai for the Sunday airstrike, which occurred in the central Afghan province of Uruzgan.

The Afghanistan Council of Ministers strongly condemned the airstrike, calling it “unjustifiable.”

It said reports indicated that NATO planes fired at a convoy of three vehicles, killing at least 27 people, including four women and a child, and injuring 12 others.

I can’t stop reading about the President’s (so-called) Health Care Plan — even though it’s not about Health Care and it’s not really a plan.  ….

What are you reading about today?

Don’t mock the mockers

Obots are sensitive


Lynn Sweet:

In her Tea Party speech, Palin mocked Obama by asking “how’s that hope-y, change-y stuff working out for ya?”

I asked White House senior advisor Valerie Jarrett recently what she thought of Palin’s dig.

Said Jarrett: “Making fun of the folks’ real, sincere hopes for change that Americans across our country felt, I don’t know that making fun of that is constructive. I prefer we would say, ‘Come and think of constructive solutions that really improve our country.’ I think people are tired of being made fun of.”

Riiiiiiiight.

Because we all know that Obama and his followers would never make fun of others:

We must never stop mocking her unbelievable lack of smarts, veracity and substance. Republicans would do well to join the mockery, too. She’s arguably the leader of her party (her or Limbaugh) and, at some point, she was actually worried that she’d forget “tax cuts.” A Republican. Tax cuts. When we stop mocking her, when the press and the netroots and the Democrats begin to say, “Enough with the Palin is stupid remarks,” that’s when she begins to be taken seriously. That must not happen.

Nor would the White House Press Secretary do this:



Black History Month: Remembering and celebrating Yosemite’s Buffalo Soldiers

Buffalo Soldiers, 24th Infantry, Yosemite National Park 1899 (archival photograph, Yosemite Research Library)

In honor of Black History month it’s not  difficult to find subjects for showcasing the immeasurable contributions of African Americans to both our country in the world.  I could talk of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, or any one of the many inventors, artists, scientists, politicians, and political activists whose efforts to make our world a better place are well known.  Yet, there are others who will do this many times over.  I think it’s just as important to remember those whose history, but for a few dedicated researchers, might have been forgotten.  Such is the story of the Buffalo Soldiers of Yosemite.

The hidden chapter of this U.S. Army history revolves around the participation of African-American troops of the 24th Infantry and 9th Cavalry, who protected both Yosemite and Sequoia national parks in 1899, 1903, and 1904. (The parks are located approximately 150 miles apart.) Most of these men were veterans of the Spanish-American War and the Philippine-American War in which they were called “Smoked Yankees.” Many of them enlisted in the South where opportunities for African-Americans were limited to sharecropping, and other labor intensive work.

Their story might have been forgotten for all time had it not been for the inspired renewal by Shelton Johnson, the charismatic national park ranger showcased in Ken Burns’ documentary, National Parks: America’s Best Idea. At the website he created to honor this forgotten regiment,  Shelton explains how a chance encounter with a photograph gave greater personal meaning to his work as a park ranger, and how that photograph has allowed him to give new life and interest to the story of these African American soldiers charged with protecting Yosemite National Park in the racially conflict-ridden period immediately following the Civil War.

My name is Shelton Johnson. I work as a Park Ranger in Yosemite Valley. I’m African American, one of only a handful working for the Park Service here in Yosemite. Although the story I’m about to tell you is real, there are still many things shrouded in mystery. We know that these buffalo soldiers lived, passed away, and were forgotten. Their story, like many stories, lost its fire and became lost in the darkness. My awareness of this history began the day I wandered into Yosemite’s Research Library and found an old photograph.

I took a closer look at the picture and read the caption. It was a photograph of the 24th Mounted Infantry taken somewhere in Yosemite in 1899. The 24th, along with the 25th Infantry and the 9th and 10th Cavalry, were African-American army regiments that during the Indian War period became known as Buffalo Soldiers. Seeing this photograph was like stumbling into your own family while traveling in a foreign country.

I had no idea that 100 years ago the 24th Mounted Infantry and the 9th Cavalry were entrusted with the protection of Yosemite, Sequoia, and General Grant (Kings Canyon) National Parks. I had never read this information in any history, but there staring at me, across a gulf of 100 years were these Black soldiers who had overcome obstacles that made my challenges insignificant. I immediately wanted to know their names, to find out as much as I could about them. They had almost completely disappeared from Yosemite’s history. If it weren’t for this one photograph, who would know or care that they ever existed? I wanted to speak to them, to tell them that they weren’t forgotten.

The Buffalo Soldiers of Yosemite were post-Civil War African American soldiers authorized by Congressional action in 1866. Originally sent west to fight the Indian Wars, these soldiers were eventually dispatched, along with white soldiers, to protect and patrol the national parks as the first rangers.  Their name was given to them by the native peoples who inhabited these scenic lands:

Buffalo Soldiers, like their white counterparts in U.S. Army regiments, were among the first park rangers, in general, and backcountry rangers, in particular, patrolling parts of the West. African-American army regiments, formed just after the Civil War, had been dispatched westward where these black soldiers fought in the Indian Wars and were eventually given the name Buffalo Soldiers by the Cheyenne and other Plains Indians who saw a resemblance between their dark, curly hair and the matted cushion between the horns of the buffalo.

(SNIP)

Historians have recorded the service of these Buffalo Soldiers on the Western frontier, but their service in some national parks has been nearly forgotten. Approximately 500 Buffalo Soldiers served in Yosemite National Park and nearby Sequoia National Park with duties from evicting poachers and timber thieves to extinguishing forest fires.

While soldiers patrolling the national parks were not unusual, these soldiers faced a unique obstacle in this period just following the Civil War.  The Buffalo soldiers were also the ones who had to confront those who violated park rules, such as entering forbidden areas or taking wildlife or resources as souvenirs.   With less than 40 years passing since the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, they found themselves in the midst of white wealthy tourists who were not used to taking orders from “coloreds;” and the soldiers faced more than their share of racism as they carried out their duties in Yosemite

Their noteworthy accomplishments were made despite the added burden of racism.

(SNIP)

Even though the Buffalo Soldiers wore the uniform of the U.S. Army, their ethnicity combined with the racial prejudice of the time made the performance of their duties quite challenging. In the early 1900s, African-Americans were routinely abused, or even killed, for the slightest perceived offense. They occupied one of the lowest rungs of the social ladder; a fact which served to undercut the authority of any black man who served in any position of power. Yosemite and Sequoia’s Buffalo Soldiers had to be simultaneously strong and diplomatic to fulfill the duties of their job but to avoid giving offense.

Despite these challenges, the Buffalo soldier’s contributions were significant:

Their accomplishments included, but by no means were limited to, the completion of the first usable road into Giant Forest and the first trail to the top of Mt. Whitney (the tallest peak in the contiguous United States) in Sequoia National Park in 1903; and the building of an arboretum in Yosemite National Park near the south fork of the Merced River in 1904. One scholar considered the latter area to contain the first marked nature trail in the national park system. Thus, an integral part of that history played by the 500 Buffalo Soldiers, comprising eight troops of cavalry and one company of infantry, will no longer be forgotten.

And their contributions very well may have been forgotten, if not for the chance encounter Shelton Johnson had with that photograph.  To Johnson, the parks represent the true meaning of Democracy — pieces of America that belong to every citizen, not just the wealthy. In this clip he recalls the moment he arrived at the entrance to Yellowstone and the realization that this amazing place was a tangible symbol of democracy.

As one of the few African American rangers in the park service, Johnson has dedicated more than a decade to uncovering their story and sharing it with the visitors of Yosemite.  The percentage of African American visitors to the park is significantly lower than their representation as a population of our country; because of this he sees establishing a bond between the African American community and our National Parks as his calling.

As part of his work in the National Park Service, Johnson has developed an interpretive presentation where he presents the story of the Buffalo Soldiers through the life of Sergeant Alizy Bowman. In the following clip, Johnson explains how he came to know of this forgotten soldier:

…and here “Alizy Bowman” takes a walk with a group of visitors to Yosemite:

Johnson has since penned his personal reflections about these soldiers in order to express the profound sense of connection he feels in his role as one of the only African American park rangers in Yosemite:

A Letter to Dead Soldiers

Dear men, forgive me for not writing sooner, but I only recently discovered that the dead do not completely vanish from this earth. I realize now that death does not occur with the stopping of the heart, but when we choose to forget. One hundred years after horses and the creaking of wagon wheels, your names are air, unseen, yet moving around us. How can something as substantial as a column of twenty-six men riding side by side on a dusty road leave neither imprint on the ground nor sound in sky?

Someone must have seen you after you left the Presidio of San Francisco in early 1899. Is there no one in Mayfield who remembers, or Santa Clara, or Firebaugh, or Madera, or any other town in the Central Valley you passed through that has people old and wise enough to remember? A century’s accumulation of dust has buried the fourteen days it took for you to get to Yosemite. Even our memory of you fades under the pressure of years. Yet, there you are astride your horses in a Yosemite that is as close as the open window of my office. Is this all that remains that one can touch: a photograph, and part of a sentence in a military report?

Is this all that is left of you? All your hopes and desires, what you wanted out of life, your thoughts and dreams, even you and your bodies, your horses and wagons, the shadows you cast on the ground, all squeezed into the space of one sentence. To live only in a phrase, to find that all you ever were, or hoped to be, lies trapped among a procession of nouns, adjectives, and prepositions. To find that the collective memory of your life has become simply a reference in a government document. This is a terrible kind of eternity, but preferable to oblivion, because it means that you still live.

(SNIP)

The stockmen knew where you were and avoided you, but I wish the opposite. How can I reach across 100 years and hold out my hand for you to take? How can I convince people that you are not dead but live on? Not just in documents and old photographs, or even in the park ranger uniform I wear, but that you are real soldiers surviving into the present? Because I choose to remember you, you live on in me. I know your lives had meaning to Black folks. I know that someone called you son, brother, or father. I think that I understand why you joined the army. You had few choices, and a military career provided a sense of dignity, respect, and a pension upon retirement.

If you have an opportunity to visit Yosemite National Park in the future, check the schedule to see if you can catch one of Johnson’s ranger walks as Alizy,where he brings the story of the Buffalo Soldiers to life.

**********

For more information about the Buffalo Soldiers and National Park Service Ranger Shelton Johnson:

National Park Service: Buffalo Soldiers

National Park Service: Shelton Johnson as Alizy Bowman

Shelton Johnson’s Buffalo Soldiers website: Shadow Soldier

The History of the Buffalo Soldiers (pre-national parks)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buffalo_Soldier

http://articles.sfgate.com/2009-12-03/entertainment/17182992_1_yosemite-national-park-buffalo-soldier-park-rangers

Click to access Shelton%20Johnson%20-%20Buffalo%20Soldier%282%29.pdf

Tiger Woods Shows Us: There is Something Very Wrong with our Society

(WARNING: Some content below may be offensive to the Self-Righteous!!!)

Interesting Fact: Before Thanksgiving 2009, if I had been at a party in search of a booty call and Tiger Woods had walked up to me and suggested we mess around, I would have accepted.

Like most folks, I think it is trashy, counter productive and despicable to get involved with a married person unless I am getting paid to do so. But prior to Thanksgiving of 2009, I didn’t even KNOW Tiger Woods was married with children. I obviously don’t give a shit about sports, but getting hit on by a multi-million dollar Golfer is pretty flattering. How many girls can say they hooked up with Tiger Woods? (A lot.)

Of course, bragging about a star studded sexcapade to your friends is a lot different than talking about it on Oprah. But in hindsight, I can see how some of Tiger’s mistresses were so willing to tell their stories after having CNN dangle big fat checks in front of their faces.

Tiger Woods is an athlete. He is famous for being able to hit a little white ball into a hole with a stick. Like most athletes and movie stars, he contributes absolutely nothing useful to society, save for a tiny, obligatory portion of his millions to some causes and charities.

But unlike movie and porn stars, athletes do not have the luxury of being able to date other athletes, assuming the majority of them are heterosexuals, because there are no famous female athletes that aren’t tennis players. In fact, athletes, besides being mostly male, sell their bodies to large multimillion dollar Corporations. We tut and cluck our tongues at porn stars, hookers, strippers, and models for doing exactly the same thing, and yet athletes are like modern day Gladiators. They are paid obscene amounts of money to play games that are sometimes violent, and we tell our children to look up at them as heroes so that they too can one day be rewarded the equivalent of the budgets of some small countries to jump on each other and chase around pig skins. (And really, if your child is looking up to athletes instead of you, than you’re doing something wrong. Yeah, I said it.)

So why the Hell does anyone CARE that Tiger Woods got caught cheating with practically every woman in the country (I mean, really, how do you know I HAVEN’T slept with Tiger Woods? You don’t know me like that!)?

Joseph Cannon said something about this earlier that I think bears repeating:

“But he represents…” Bullshit. Don’t bother trying to finish that sentence.

Nobody “represents” anything. Not even royalty and presidents. We’re all just people. As Robert De Niro said in The Deer Hunter: “This is this. This ain’t somethin’ else: This is this.”

Much of our low media infrastructure — Jerry Springer, the tabloids — has existed to humiliate people for unapproved sexual activity. But why do we care about the private kinks, errors, oddities, unconventionalities, betrayals and ecstasies of others? Are our lives really so small?

Its John Edwards, Mark Sanfords, Ted Haggards, Larry Craigs and George W Bushes of the world–those who bathe themselves in hypocrisy while fancying themselves more than just human beings, those men who believe themselves to be Gods and use their positions to claim moral superiority, justifying their own errors by condemning the mistakes of others and passing sexist and homophobic laws that keep those of us who are self aware on our knees– those are the men that deserve our attention and our scorn.

But lets look on the bright side: Tiger Woods’ sex scandal has been thoroughly entertaining. (Thanks to him, I now know that there’s someone out there with just as many sexual fetishes as me.) Most athletes behave the same way he does, they just don’t get caught. I live in Cleveland and LeBron James is like the second coming of Christ around here. But I know of a lot of women who have had less than fortunate encounters with him and other Cavs players, and I hope he crashes and burns. Yeah, I said it. And really, why would anyone even WANT to marry an athlete? You’d have to sit there and listen to them go on and on and on about twenty yard lines and bogeys and three pointers and other endlessly boring crap, and as a trade off they probably wouldn’t even be faithful. Lets hope Elin’s learned her lesson.

This can also teach us a lesson about the undeserved importance our society gives sports. We can not only talk to our children and remind them that pitchers and quarterbacks and point guards are just as lame and ignorant as the rest of us, we can also take the time to break it to them that the likelihood of them become professional athletes are slim to none: Daddy got that football scholarship a long time ago, and he’s not going to get it back by trying to live vicariously through them.

PS: And you know what? Tiger’s squeeze was right. Those golf balls were offensive.

UPDATE: Pandagon also has a wonderful, highly recommended post about this:

But my frustration with this is about more than just that. And it’s about more than the fact that there’s a double standard being employed in this—be it because Woods is an icon, or because of his race, or because of whatever—where he was singled out for a “scandal” for behavior that is more typical than not of golfers and athletes in general. It’s that holding Woods out to be a freak show implies that his behavior is unusual, and that his attitudes are freakish works to conceal the larger cultural support for his behavior and attitudes, especially in sports. But I would argue he’s typical, with the attitudes he almost surely has about women to inspire such epic cheating on his wife and apparent disregard for the well-being of his other partners. I’m not saying most or all men have his attitudes, of course. But a big enough chunk of them that it’s a joke to pretend that Woods’ behavior was anything to write home about.