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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

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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: