The Watering Hole, Monday, January 18th, 2016: ICYMI

Some updates on the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge situation from the weekend:

Yesterday, DailyKos had this story about Child Protective Services removing Robert “LaVoy” Finicum’s fourfoster children from his Arizona ‘ranch.’  I love the [literal] money quote:

“That was my main source of income,” Finicum said. “My ranch, well, the cows just cover the costs of the ranch. If this means rice and beans for the next few years, so be it. We’re going to stay the course.”

According to Oregon Public Broadcasting:

“That represents an enormous loss of income for the Finicums. According to a 2010 tax filing, Catholic Charities paid the family $115,343 to foster children in 2009…

Since then, Catholic Charities has increased payments for foster care significantly, but it does not itemize the dollar amount the Finicums were paid in subsequent years.”

On Saturday, January 16th, a few members of the Center for Biological Diversity tried to protest the occupation of the refuge.  From Raw Story:

“We’re here to speak up for public land, which belongs to the public,” the group’s executive director, Kierán Suckling, said. “These people are trying to take the land away.”

Pete Santilli, part of the occupying group, picked up a bullhorn and started shouting over him, calling the conservationists “communist,” “fascist,” and saying, “You’re under arrest for bull****ting.”

Ah, yes, Pete Santilli.  At first I had him confused with Rick Santilli, the idiot whose ranting on CNBC more or less started the Tea Party plague.  However, this Pete Santilli seems to be cut from much the same cloth.  Pete is the one who, on his radio show back in 2013, spouted the following regarding then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton:

“I want to shoot her right in the vagina and I don’t want her to die right away,” he said. “I want her to feel the pain and I want to look her in the eyes and I want to say, on behalf of all Americans that you’ve killed, on behalf of the Navy SEALS, the families of Navy SEAL Team Six who were involved in the fake hunt down of this Obama, Obama bin Laden thing, that whole fake scenario, because these Navy SEALS know the truth, they killed them all.”

Santilli continued: “On behalf of all of those people, I’m supporting our troops by saying we need to try, convict, and shoot Hillary Clinton in the vagina.”

According to his bio, “Pete Santilli is a Former U.S. Marine, Consumer Advocate, Former Coca-Cola Executive, Corporate Whistleblower, Radio Talk Show Host. Pete Santilli is a professional hell raiser…”

Santilli also led a protest outside the FBI’s temporary setup at the Burns Airport on Saturday.  However, it appears that Santilli is merely a supporter of the occupiers:

“Asked about the demonstration outside the FBI’s headquarters, [Robert] Finicum said Santilli is an “independent journalist” and is not part of the group occupying the Refuge.”

On the agenda for today, according to The Oregonian, is a ‘lecture’ by KrisAnne Hall, who is described as “a Florida attorney and radio talk show host” (although she reportedly no longer holds a license to practice as an attorney in Florida.)  Ms Hall is planning to ‘sovereign-splain’ the supposed legality of the Bundy-led occupation of the wildlife refuge:

“Her assistant said she will cover two topics: sovereignty of the state and the constitutional limits of the federal government’s control.

Hall is an outspoken critic of the federal government who supports privatization of federal lands.

“The people are not acting lawlessly,” Hall said in [a] video. “It is the federal government that is acting lawlessly.”

For a tutorial on the warped version of the legal belief system that these deluded people are trying to establish, see this post on Friday’s ThinkProgress.

And for continuing updated coverage, The Oregonian puts up a daily “what you need to know” article along with related articles.

This is our daily Open Thread – feel free to talk about anything you like.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, November 28th, 2015: Planned Parenthood Under Attack

Planned Parenthood is always under some kind of attack, whether by the religious-right forced-birthers protesting outside PP offices, or by the Republican-led legislature’s ginned-up witch hunts about fetal tissue, or by the many states’ impositions of prohibitively strict restrictions on both clinics and patients. This time, however, the attack was physical, violent, and deadly.

"Sneak Preview" of cover of Denver Post for Saturday, 11/28/15 (from Twitter)

“Sneak Preview” of cover of Denver Post for Saturday, 11/28/15 (from Twitter)

It’s nearly 3:30am Eastern Time as I’m typing this, and right now the most up-to-date information seems to be from the Denver Post. They’ve assembled a timeline of the more than five-hour shooting/standoff here. A third Denver Post article paints a more vivid picture of the unfolding situation, including this tidbit that I haven’t seen anywhere else:

“At roughly 12:15, the gunman went inside Planned Parenthood and began firing out the windows at propane tanks placed around the clinic’s parking lot, an officer told dispatch over his radio.”

Now, other articles mentioned that the police were sorting through several items that the suspect had brought with him, including mention of ‘a propane tank.’ Nothing about more than one tank, or that any were “placed around the clinic’s parking lot” – but that could explain why most articles say the shooting started outside the Planned Parenthood offices, in the parking lot. Supposedly [it was reported somewhere, I forget where] the suspect had been shooting at cars passing by, possibly if any of the drivers noticed what he was doing. But I’m just speculating here, which I shouldn’t be doing. That, apparently, is the job of the TV ‘news’ media. We turned on the TV after we initially read about the shooting as it was happening, but turned it off again after hearing some of the inane questions and ‘we-don’t-want-to-speculate-but-we-have-to’ bumbling.

Of course there will be much more information available by the time I wake up later this morning–hell, probably even by the time I finish writing this. So I’m definitely not going to speculate about the shooting suspect’s motive(s), or his religion, or his political persuasion; when the information comes out, I’m sure there will be much ranting to follow. I just need to get this one little rant off my chest before I finally go to bed:

Back in September, Illinois Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger had spoken about the now-debunked videos purportedly showing PP “harvesting” fetal tissue for fun and profit:

“I mean it’s Nazi Germany,” he told Rockford radio station WROK recently. “You think of the doctors in the concentration camps experimenting on their victims. It’s kind of reminiscent of that.”

The fact that the ‘smoking-gun’ videos were proven to be fraudulent didn’t deter Kinzinger from throwing them up again, with amazingly tone-deaf, brain-dead timing. From one of the ThinkProgress articles covering the shooting:

“While the shooter was active inside the Planned Parenthood clinic, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) went on live TV and blasted the organization. “We saw these barbaric videos, and that was something that many of us have a legitimate concern about,” Kinzinger said.”

Yes. He said that while the shooting spree was in progress; while police officers were being shot at; while at least 100 people were huddling in fear, not just in the Planned Parenthood offices, but in nearby shops and buildings; while a shooter terrorized the area. And he said it as if having “a legitimate concern about” Planned Parenthood could somehow be a “legitimate” cause or reason or excuse for shooting and killing innocent people.

This is our daily Open Thread–have at it.

The Watering Hole, Monday, November 23rd, 2015: NatGeo, Take Me Away!

I can’t deal with “Ugly Americans” [of course, “Ugly Americans” = “Republican Presidential Candidates and their Fans/Supporters”] anymore; we keep thinking, “How can these guys sink so low?”, then, the next hour or day or week, one or two or several of them come out with such outrageous shit that we really need a new word to define what circle of hell lies beyond “outrageous” or “horrific” or “despicable” or “abhorrent” or “inhuman” – sorry, I need more words!

And I’ve had it up to HERE with the holidays being turned into meaningless “shop-’til-you-drop” commercialism [how about if “Black Friday” could be turned into “Black Lives Matter Friday” – hell, make every day of the entire Thanksgiving/Christmas holiday shopping season a day of protests]. So I’m going with some beautiful photos from National Geographic to start the week.

Here’s some pretty birds, from “A Flight of Birds”, a section of NatGeo’s Photo Ark, including a photo capturing the iridescent plumage of the Purple Glossy Starling, such as seen below,
purple_glossy_starling
and a more close-up shot of the Javan Rhinoceros Hornbill, like the one seen below:
javan rhinoceros Hornbill

And if you prefer a larger gallery for leisurely viewing, here’s more from NatGeo’s 2015 Photo Contest. The “Week 10” group includes a brooding sunset photo of Godafoss Waterfall in Iceland – here’s a chilly winter shot of the falls, just to start the calming process:
waterfall-godafoss-iceland

This is our daily Open Thread – enjoy the views or rant away – or you can do both!

The Watering Hole, Tuesday September 1, 2015

Away from food politics and environment for a moment, here is an essay on the presence of guns in the US with respect to other countries and the comparative murder and suicide rates. Surprised to actually find this at a CNN site.

Amerikans love their guns to death.

Papa bear, momma bear, and baby bear.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, August 1st, 2015: WTF is Wrong With These Pictures?

mccrory1mccrory2

So what DOES it take for someone seen “toting an AR-15 assault rifle, a handgun and an ax” on more than one occasion, sometimes wearing a mask, to even be questioned by law enforcement? Apparently it wasn’t until said someone posted a threat on Facebook, which alert citizens reported to law enforcement, that the local LEOs sat up and really took notice.  From RawStory:

“While police could not respond to residents’ complaints about McCrory’s past activities, they took note of him on Wednesday for online posts regarding the murder trial of Kyler Carriker, who was charged in the 2013 death Ronald Betts during a drug deal. Carriker was found not guilty on Thursday.

“Is it out of line to storm the courthouse if he’s found guilty?” the suspect wrote. He later added, “If we get a get a decent number of people to charge through the front doors and security, the police there will attack us. Often times [sic], the only way to defend yourself from a cop is to kill the cop which means using a rifle to penetrate the body armor.”

Well, it looks like more than one thing is “out of line” – KAKE-TV reported that:

“…McCrory was ineligible to own a firearm at all, since he has a felony conviction.  He was charged with aggravated criminal threat and three counts of criminal possession of a firearm.”

According to KSCrime.com:
The following raw charge information was entered by law enforcement authorities during detainment of Samuel Mccrory on 2015-07-30. All suspects are innocent until proven guilty: [emphasis mine – I think they mean all WHITE suspects.]

21.5415.B AGG CRIMINAL THREAT
21.6304.A.3.A CRIMINAL POSS FIREARM
21.6304.A.3.A CRIMINAL POSS FIREARM
21.6304.A.3.A CRIMINAL POSS FIREARM

The KS Crime article also mentions: “At the time of the arrest, Mr. McCrory was described as a white man, 6′ 5″ tall, 280 lbs, and 22 years old.”
Samuel A. McCrory

BINGO! Strapping young white guys with guns are apparently off-limits.

 

This is our daily Open Thread–you know what to do.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, May 30th, 2015: Hello, Cuba!

Cuba has finally been removed from the “State-Sponsored Terrorism” list, leaving only 3 nations on the short list: Iran, Sudan and Syria.

And about fucking time. C’mon, we at least have to make some concession to the fact that OUR abomination of a hellhole, that stinking albatross around America’s neck that seems to get little notice anymore, that unholy, immoral “Pit of Despair” known as GTMO, occupies part of THEIR country. We – the United States of America – cannot claim much of a moral high ground when we are deliberately and indifferently crushing hundreds of souls, day by day, year by year, simply because the greatest nation on the face of the earth ever doesn’t want to admit to or clean up the horror it spawned.

Sorry, where was I? Oh, here’s a few articles on Cuba’s elevation in status:

As The New York Times’ Julie Hirshfeld Davis reminds us, President Obama gave official notice of his intent to Congress on April 14th, 2015, beginning the 45-day “Congressional notification period”, which expired yesterday. An excerpt:

“Cuba’s removal from the terrorism list was harshly criticized by several declared or prospective Republican presidential candidates and members of Congress, a sign that the détente may become an issue in the 2016 campaign.
Former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida, who is widely expected to run, called the decision “further evidence that President Obama seems more interested in capitulating to our adversaries than in confronting them.”

The House speaker, John A. Boehner, Republican of Ohio, said the administration had “handed the Castro regime a significant political win in return for nothing.” He vowed that the House would ensure that sanctions on Cuba would stay in place.”

One Washington Post article mentions that Jeb also said “I call on Congress to keep pressure on Cuba and hold the administration accountable.” [Does he mean the Cuban “administration”, or the Obama “administration”?] On Congress’ role, the article says:

“Removing the terror designation lifts only some of the numerous U.S. trade barriers against Cuba. An economic embargo remains in effect, and reversing it requires a congressional vote. President Obama has said he hopes to work with Congress to get it lifted.”

Why does President Obama, after all this time, still hold out any hope that Congress will work with him towards any goal? I mean, to Congress, Obama is just continuing his communist/socialist/Muslim/dictator/America-hating/atheist agenda, right? (sigh) Moving on…

A very informative WasPo article by Ishaan Tharoor helps to explain how a country qualifies for the “State-Sponsored Terrorism List”, and why some nations that one would think belonged on the list aren’t. The article also discusses nations who were previously on the list but have been removed. i.e., Iraq (maybe because we totally fucked up their country and left it in no shape to sponsor terrorism?); Libya (maybe because we killed enough members of Mohumar Gaddafi’s family that he finally cried Uncle Sam?)

FoxNews.com has this article, which adds a bit to the Speaker Boehner knee-jerk bluster:

“The communist dictatorship has offered no assurances it will address its long record of repression and human rights at home,” Boehner said in a statement.”

Fair enough, but ONLY if Boehner promises to end the Republicans’ long record of repression and human rights violations in OUR country AND theirs.  Better ‘tend to that log in your own eye’, Boehner.

This is our daily Open Thread – have at it!

Sunday Roast: Death, Mayhem & Gun Violence

Blood_Spatter_2

Moscow, Idaho — May, 2007New York Times

The police said Mr. Hamilton had been drinking at a bar with another man until about 10 p.m. Saturday. Then, they believe, he went home and fatally shot his wife in the head before setting off for the courthouse carrying two semiautomatic rifles. Around 11:30 p.m., he opened fire at the building, eventually firing some 125 shots at the courthouse and at the people who responded to the scene.

Mr. Hamilton killed one responder, Officer Lee C. Newbill of the Moscow police. Officer Bill Shields was hit in the leg by bullet fragments as he went to Officer Newbill’s aid. A sheriff’s deputy, Sgt. Brannon Jordan, was shot several times but was not seriously wounded and was expected to leave the hospital on Monday.

Peter Husmann, a 20-year-old mechanical engineering major at the University of Idaho, in Moscow, heard the shootings and rode his bicycle to the scene armed with a .45-caliber pistol, said his father, Sam Husmann. Peter Husmann was shot in the back, fell to the ground, and was then shot in the calf, neck and shoulder, his father said. He was in stable condition on Monday.

After the shootings at the courthouse, Mr. Hamilton entered the First Presbyterian Church, directly across the street. He had worked there as a custodian for American Building Maintenance, which had a contract with the church, and he knew the church’s sexton, Paul Bauer, Chief Duke said.

Moscow, Idaho — August, 2011, ktvb.com

July 14, 2011: UI requested Moscow Police participate in a threat assessment concerning the threatening behavior of Ernesto Bustamante. University investigators met with Benoit to review Bustamante’s response and notify her that they would be interviewing him on July 19. She was asked to stay somewhere other than her apartment. The Moscow Police tried to call Benoit several times, leaving messages. Benoit did not return the phone calls. Police told the university that she wasn’t calling back. The university indicated that Benoit had been referred to Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse and a safety plan had been discussed. The Moscow Police informed the UI that Benoit did not want police involved.

July 22, 2011: University called Benoit to ask her where she would be staying until the start of school. She said she would be in Moscow. They encouraged her to take safety precautions and contact Moscow Police Department if she felt the need.

August 19. She was warned to be vigilant and call police if she had any safety concerns.

August 22, 2011: Katy was shot outside her home at 8:40 p.m.

August 23, 2011: Moscow Police find Ernesto Bustamante dead in a hotel room at the University Inn-Best Western.

Moscow, Idaho — January 10, 2015, ktvb.com

Police say they first responded to a call of a shooting at around 2:30 p.m. at the Northwest Mutual on E. Third Street. Police say the two victims at the first reported shooting were 76-year-old David Trail and 39-year-old Michael Chin of Seattle. Trail, a Moscow businessman, was taken to Pullman Regional Hospital where he was declared dead. Chin was taken to Gritman Medical Center and is currently in critical condition.

Minutes after the first incident, police say a second shooting was reported at an Arby’s restaurant on Peterson Drive. Police say Lee entered the restaurant and asked for the manager. When the manager, 47-year-old Belinda Niebuhr, came forward Lee reportedly opened fire. Niebuhr was declared dead at Gritman Medical Center.

About a mile and a half away from the Arby’s, police say a fourth victim was found dead at a residence in the 400 block of Veatch Street. The fourth victim, 61-year-old Terri Grzebielski, is reportedly the suspect’s adoptive mother. Police say Grzebielski was a physician’s assistant at Moscow Family Medicine.

You may be asking yourself what is the significance of posting these three items about gun violence in one small town in America, so I’ll tell you:  These are stories of suicidal rage, mental illness, murder, blood, obsession, fear, and a gun sickness in this country, the “cure” for which seems to be more and more guns — and, consequently, more and more gun violence.

The significance to me is the fact that, in each of the above stories, I knew one of the dead:

Crystal Hamilton died a bloody death by gun violence by the hand of her husband.  She was the head custodian at the Latah County Courthouse, and was a lovely young woman.  She always had a smile for everyone.

Ernesto Bustamante died a bloody death by gun violence by his own hand, after having become a murderer.  He was my psych research professor — my favorite professor — and he was gorgeous, with his long, shiny black hair, devastating smile, and ironic sense of humor.  He was an occasional chatting partner in my peer advising office in the psych department, and he murdered a promising young grad student, Katy Benoit.

Yesterday, Terri Grzebielski died a bloody death by gun violence by the hand of her adopted son.  She was a physician’s assistant in the University of Idaho Student Health Department, and was my PA for the four years I attended the U of I.  She was an amazing woman:  Very tall, very thin, full of energy, ready smile, and she truly cared about her patients.

In addition to these people, a childhood friend’s sister was killed with a gun, and her murder was never solved; my former mother-in-law’s boss was murdered by his crazed daughter-in-law; and the husband of a dear friend died as a result of a gun accident.

This is fucking excessive, people!  Does everyone know this many people who’ve died by gun violence?

I don’t know the solution to the gun sickness in this country, other than collecting all the guns and melting them into plowshares, but we all know that will never happen.  One feasible solution is strict regulations placed on guns and gun owners, but that would take political integrity and honor, and that exists in very small amounts in this country.

I’m sick to death of gun violence in this country, and I’m SO fucking done with “gun rights” being more important than human lives.

This is our daily open thread — Fuck you, trolls.