673 posts categorized "Public Safety"

August 19, 2013

August 21 - Launch of the DC Anti-Violence Collaborative

This just in from David Mariner at the DC Center:

Come to Columbia Heights Plaza [14th & Park Rd NW] this Wednesday, August 21 at 6:30 PM to find out about a new group that seeks to coordinate advocacy and services around lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) experiences of violence.

Washington, DC -- Local LGBT organizations and advocates are coming together to launch the DC Anti-Violence Collaborative (DCAVC), a new group dedicated to ending cycles of violence and oppression impacting LGBT community in the District of Columbia.

"The DC Anti-Violence Collaborative will allow us to start coordinating vital services for survivors of violence in our communities," said Ruby Corado, founder and executive director of Casa Ruby. "There is a tremendous need, and by working together across organizations, we will be better able to address that need," Corado added.

Hassan Naveed, co-chair of Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence, said, "DCAVC will help us create an inclusive advocacy agenda in a safe space for all intersections of the LGBTQH communities. It's time for us tighten coordination in our advocacy efforts and make sure we are providing representation for everyone."

"The central idea behind the DC Anti-Violence Collaborative is that organizations and activists can come together in a place to address, collectively, issues of police violence, hate violence, sexual violence, and partner violence through advocacy, education, grassroots organizing, and providing services," said Jason Terry, anti-violence organizer with the DC Trans Coalition. "I see this as really long-term work that over time can build collective power and collective safety."

The DC Anti-Violence Collaborative will meet monthly, and plans to organize two town hall meetings later this fall. DCAVC will also soon be launching in new online tool to report incidents of anti-LGBTQH violence.

UK authorities detain Glenn Greenwald's partner for 9 hours at Heathrow

David-Miranda-and-Glenn-Greenwald
(David Miranda and Glenn Greenwald. AP photo)

The Guardian reports here and here. Greenwald reacts. The Telegraph reports. Andrew Sullivan reacts.

I have not been a fan of Edward Snowden, nor of Glenn Greenwald. I was initially unconcerned about NSA surveillance. But recent events are forcing a reassessment. First came the news that the founder of the Lavabit encrypted email service used by Snowden is being threatened for his decision to shut it down rather than cooperate with the surveillance. Now I learn that Greenwald's Brazilian partner was detained for 9 hours at Heathrow (where he was in transit to Rio) and several of his possessions, including his cellphone and laptop, confiscated. Greenwald and his partner are defiant, as is the Guardian, and rightfully so. Mr. President, stop this outrageous and lawless behavior NOW.

The best bet for British authorities at this point may be to claim that there was an unusually large number of lonely security officers on duty yesterday at Heathrow, and it took nine hours for each of them to get a turn at patting down David Miranda and searching his body cavities. That might be believed.

August 08, 2013

From the annals of white crime

Chauncey DeVega at We Are Respectable Negroes makes a good point:

White men are approximately 30 percent of the American public, but they account for 70 percent of mass shootings. The pathological mix that is gun culture and imperiled/aggrieved white masculinity is killing people--most of whom are white--yet, the white community looks the other way.

The perpetuation of privilege requires a lot of brazen double standards.

August 02, 2013

GLAA to Councilmembers: Do not postpone election of DC AG

Read the letter here. Thanks to former GLAA President Craig Howell for drafting it.

August 01, 2013

Ad attacks Christine Quinn for supporting Ray Kelly

If you think D.C. elections get nasty, check out this one from NYC.

I figured that O'Reilly would blame the victim, but Don Lemon?

Don-lenon-no-talking-points

Terrell Jermaine Starr at NewsOne slams CNN's Don Lemon for taking up the topsy-turvy reasoning of Fox's Bill O'Reilly, who responded to the Zimmerman verdict by saying "you've got to stop young Black women from having babies out of wedlock," and "you've got to demand discipline in your public schools in the inner cities." Lemon's contribution was to criticize young black men who wear saggy pants.

Wow. What came over Don? He seemed quite reasonable before (though I don't watch CNN much). Going into the saggy pants discussion in the context of the Zimmerman verdict is classic blame-the-victim stuff, which is especially gratuitous because Trayvon was doing no such thing. They might as well have started criticizing "scary African hairstyles," which would have been equally egregious and gratuitous and laughable and unintentionally revealing. Is George C. Wolfe writing a play about this? Did we fall into a time warp? Next up, top ten things women should do to avoid being raped, plus if you weren't so damn queer you wouldn't get beaten up. Meanwhile, I can't get out of my mind the image of the lifeless body of an innocent kid the same age as the ones I advise on their thesis topics. These kids whose vulnerability to racist violence should make us all ashamed in 2013. STFU about their fashion choices and stop killing my kids.

(Hat tip: H. Alexander Satorie-Robinson)

July 23, 2013

The Hunted and the Hated: An Inside Look at the NYPD's Stop-and-Frisk Policy

The Nation reports. A quick-witted 17-year-old surreptitiously turned on his iPod after being stopped-and-frisked for the third time.

A secret audio recording of a stop-and-frisk in action sheds unprecedented light on a practice that has put the city's young people of color in the NYPD's crosshairs. Read the full story here.

This crap has to stop.

Update: Just watched it again. Outrageous beyond words. The shame of this persistent injustice should hound Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Kelly to the end of their days.

Don Lemon schools white conservative on racial profiling

Megan Carpentier at Raw Story reports on this encounter Saturday between CNN host Don Lemon (who is openly gay) and conservative Ben Ferguson. Lemon skewers Ferguson's presumptuousness.

July 22, 2013

Station Master

Fruitvale_Station

Chris Heller at Metro Weekly reviews Fruitvale Station:

Fruitvale Station, director Ryan Coogler's stunning debut, recreates Oscar Grant's last days with a sensitivity rarely seen in true-to-life drama. Coogler is unafraid -- daring, even -- to address the wounds that fester after issues of race, class, masculinity, law and order collide. It may surprise you to learn that he hasn't made an angry movie, though. His is a thoughtful tragedy, not a vicious screed. Fruitvale Station will outrage you, but it is not itself outrageous.

I myself give the movie high marks. It is a devastating story told with great skill. I share director Coogler's love of movies, and the prospect of several decades of further work from him is exciting after such a strong debut. Bravo to him and to all involved.

More than 1,000 attend Trayvon Martin rally in D.C.

E_Faye_Williams_by_Damien_Salas
Dr. E. Faye Williams at Justice for Trayvon rally, photo by Damien Salas, Washington Blade)

Michael K. Lavers of the Blade reports on Saturday's Justice for Trayvon rally, which was held at the U.S. District Court building on Constitution Avenue, which I attended. I am quoted in the article:

Rick Rosendall, president of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance, told the Washington Blade as he attended the D.C. rally that he feels it is important for LGBT Americans to stand in solidarity with African Americans on this issue.

"Our own community crosses every other line of diversity in this country," he said, noting NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous and Revs. Dennis and Christine Wiley of Covenant Baptist Church of Christ in Southwest D.C. and Rev. Delman Coates of Mt. Ennon Baptist Church in Clinton, Md., are among those who support marriage rights for same-sex couples. "We are connected to one another inextricably, like it or not. And we damn well better stand together or we will have hell to pay."

July 19, 2013

Barkley weighs in on Zimmerman verdict

Independent Journal Review reports on the views of NBA Hall-of-Famer Charles Barkley on the Trayvon Martin case.

I love Sir Charles, but he gives far too much credence to Zimmerman's version of the story. Unfortunately, Trayvon remained entirely mute throughout the trial.

Cameroon: LGBTI Rights Activist Found Dead, Tortured

Eric-o-lembembe

Sorry I didn't post this a few days ago. Human Rights Watch reports on a dreadful story involving the torture and murder of Cameroonian LGBTI and AIDS activist Eric Ohena Lembembe:

Lembembe’s friends discovered his body on Monday evening after being unable to reach him by telephone for two days, and went to his home. They found his front door padlocked on the outside, but could see Lembembe’s body lying on his bed through the window. Lembembe’s friends alerted the police, who broke down the door. According to one friend, Lembembe’s neck and feet appeared to have been broken, and his face, hands, and feet had been burned with an iron.

Lembembe was one of Cameroon’s most prominent LGBTI rights activists. On behalf of CAMFAIDS, he collaborated closely with Human Rights Watch and two other Cameroonian organizations, Alternatives-Cameroun and the Association for the Defense of Homosexuals (ADEFHO), in researching and launching a March 2013 report on prosecutions for consensual same-sex conduct. He also participated in drafting a submission for Cameroon’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in May 2013 at the United Nations Human Rights Council.

The sadness of the loss of brave pioneers like Mr. Lemembe is even greater than the outrage over the violence against them. In 35 years of gay rights activism, I have seldom felt my safety threatened. Of course there are anti-LGBT horrors committed in this country, most recently marked by the murder of Mark Carson in Greenwich Village and the spate of anti-transgender attacks in D.C. But the danger faced daily by our African brothers and sisters is orders of magnitude greater than that faced by most LGBT Americans. They need more support. And their persecutors are egged on by American bigots like Scott Lively.

(Hat tip: Eric Scharf)

Barack Obama: 'Trayvon Martin Could've Been Me'

A perfectly reasonable and decent statement by the President, which the morally treasonous right wing is already calling an incitement to riot. Well screw them, and thank you Mr. President.

Acquitted Development

John Oliver reacts to the Zimmerman verdict.

Mr. President: Say no to Ray Kelly for Homeland Security chief

Ta-Nehisi Coates, writing for NYT, gets it right as usual on the question of whether NYC Police Commissioner Ray Kelly would be a good choice to replace outgoing Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. Talking on Tuesday to Univision, President Obama called Kelly, who directs New York's notorious stop-and-frisk policy, "well-qualified" and an "outstanding leader in New York." Coates writes:

The N.Y.P.D.’s stop-and-frisk program has been well-covered in this newspaper and elsewhere. It is now public knowledge that the police department, each year, stops hundreds of thousands of citizens, largely black and Latino men, for reasons as thin and subjective as “furtive movements.” Very few of those stops lead to actual charges, much less arrests, and according to the commissioner that’s fine....

The dragnet tactics don’t taper at the borders of black and brown communities. If anything, they expand. Last year, The Associated Press reported that the N.Y.P.D. has organized a network of agents and informants strictly for the purpose of spying on Muslim communities. The appropriately dubbed “Demographics Unit” has extended its reach along the Northeastern seaboard, sending informants to spy on Muslim rafting trips, mosques in Newark and Muslim organizations at Yale and the University of Pennsylvania. The Demographics Unit did not discriminate, at least among Muslims: second- and third-generation American citizens were subject to profiling. Despite this sprawling fishing expedition extending up the Atlantic coast, N.Y.P.D. officials admitted in a subsequent court case that the unit’s work had not yielded a single lead, much less the opening of an actual case.

If you agree with me and Ta-Nehisi that Ray Kelly would be an appalling choice to lead Homeland Security, please call the White House comment line at (202) 456-1111. I just called, and the wait was quite brief. A charming lady with a southern accent listened attentively and thanked me quite nicely.

July 18, 2013

Armed Intruder Who Shot Homeowner Argues 'Stand Your Ground' Defense

Think Progress reports.

This is getting surreal. Inside the victim's house, and he invokes Stand Your Ground. Wow.

John Henry Spooner convicted of murdering Darius Simmons

HuffPost reports. This incident occurred in Milwaukee last year. John Henry Spooner, without any evidence, accused 13-year-old Darius Simmons of stealing weapons from his home, then shot him at point-blank range in front of his mother. The incident was caught on Spooner's own security cameras. Spooner has been convicted of first-degree murder. The trial now moves to the second stage, to determine whether he was of sound mind when he killed Simmons. I do not like the insanity defense. If you did it, you did it. In this case, he committed a premeditated act, an act which he does not deny. He should spend the rest of his life in prison.

July 17, 2013

Anti-bullying activist takes his own life

This sad news of 17-year-old Carlos Vigil is a reminder that bullying can kill even the strongest youth. We can pass model laws, and thank goodness we have GLSEN to provide leadership and resources. But changing the expectation of student peer groups from fear and isolation to intervention against bullying has proven extremely difficult.

Kids have high-tech tools in their pockets without the wisdom to use them properly, and they act as accelerants that magnify and worsen the impact of bullying into something that can overwhelm. I remember being relieved as a youth that others were bigger targets for bullying than I; isn't that awful? But we didn't have cell phones or the Internet then, and a bullying incident was pretty much localized. As we mourn another lost child, we must keep looking for ways to stop the cruelty and the isolation.

July 15, 2013

LGBT Rights Organizations Issue Open Letter: Trayvon Deserves Justice

A coalition of national LGBT rights organizations, led by the National Black Justice Coalition and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, today issued an open letter on justice in the Trayvon Martin killing. Here is an excerpt:

Trayvon Martin deserves justice and his civil rights. We support the organizations and community leaders who are urging the federal government to explore every option to ensure that justice is served for Trayvon and that his civil rights are honored and respected. But our work does not end there: we will honor Trayvon Martin by strengthening our commitment to end bias, hatred, profiling and violence across our communities.

Amen.

Trayvon Martin and the struggle for justice

Sent today to GLAA's listserve:

Greetings from the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, D.C.
http://www.glaa.org
http://www.glaaforum.org (blog)

Friends,

The peaceful, multiracial crowds that protested the verdict in the killing of Trayvon Martin offer a hopeful sign that some Americans are heeding the better angels of their nature. But the message the verdict sends to our children—that there are two standards of justice in this country—is poisonous and reminds all of us who work for equality that we must rededicate ourselves to the difficult work of coalition building.

George Zimmerman is but the latest in a long line of people, many of them real cops, who have killed unarmed black men and boys. See this item from The Root:
http://www.theroot.com/multimedia/beyond-trayvon-black-and-unarmed

Profiling is a real and terrifying reality for many Americans—as I certainly don't need to tell our transgender sisters. It will not end without a challenge or without our cooperation.

My own commentary, "Seeing Trayvon," is now online at Metro Weekly:
http://www.metroweekly.com/news/opinion/?ak=8478

Our society's discussion of the issues highlighted by this case must go beyond consideration of further indictments or lawsuits against Mr. Zimmerman (analysis of which I will leave to others). We must ask how meaningful or secure our legal rights can be amid the legal sanctioning of vigilante justice.

Instead of Trayvon, the innocent victim of this unpunished crime could have been one of the students I advise, or my own fiancé. As long as prejudice and privilege cause some people to be treated as automatic suspects who can be killed with impunity, justice is a mirage. An increasingly unhinged gun culture is put in service of social division to perpetuate minority rule. The same right wing that demonizes LGBT people also devalues and disenfranchises black people, Muslims, and immigrants, and works relentlessly to control women's wombs.

Continue reading "Trayvon Martin and the struggle for justice" »

Seeing Trayvon

Tracy_Martin
(Tracy Martin. Photo by Associated Press)

My latest column is now up at Metro Weekly. Here's an excerpt:

You cannot deny people justice, make it clear that their lives are worth less, and then command their respect. This country is not an anthem or a public-relations campaign. It is a living thing, and has been wounded by the acquittal of another in a long string of killers of unarmed black men and youth. We have much work to do to create our country. I am ashamed of the one I see.

A friend asks, "What do we tell our children?" We tell them to strive to leave this country more just than they found it. We give them the history to inform them and the tools to carry on the struggle.

We must not merely vent and withdraw in disgust and despair. That is what the bullies and defenders of privilege want. We need to recognize and declare that this is our country, too. And we have to fight for it – not with guns and truncheons, but, as Dr. King said, "on the high plane of dignity and discipline."

Read the whole thing here. Bonus points for identifying the phrase I got from a classic movie.

Below is a 2009 clip of a speech by Rev. Dr. Amos Brown, San Francisco NAACP President and marriage equality supporter, whom I mention in my column.

Bashir responds to the posthumous smears of Trayvon Martin

Martin Bashir on MSNBC clears the air on the reprehensible posthumous smearing of Trayvon Martin.

July 14, 2013

What George Zimmerman Can Do Now

Charles Pierce writes a rather brutal piece in Esquire on the result of George Zimmerman's acquittal. He can go out tonight and do the same thing he did in February 2012 to another unarmed black teenager who is going about his business. He has been given the ok.

We who believe in freedom

Sweet Honey in the Rock performs the words of civil rights activist Ella Baker, as timely as ever today:

We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes,
Until the killing of black men, black mother's sons,
Is as important as the killing of white men, white mothers' sons.

July 11, 2013

Brandon White's attackers sentenced for federal hate crimes

Rod 2.0 reports:

Two of the three men convicted of brutally attacking a young gay Atlanta man and videotaping the assault were sentenced to ten months in prison for federal hate crime charges in late June. The case is the "first time federal prosecutors have brought hate crimes charges based on sexual orientation in Georgia," reports the Atlanta Journal Constitution and CBS Atlanta.

July 07, 2013

Bruni: The Church’s Errant Shepherds

Frank Bruni at NYT discusses the release last week of thousands of pages of records on the sexual abuse of children by priests in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, and in particular the role of its former archbishop, New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan. Bruni makes the central point regarding the Roman Catholic Church:

[O]ver the last few decades we’ve watched an organization that claims a special moral authority in the world pursue many of the same legal and public-relations strategies — shuttling around money, looking for loopholes, tarring accusers, massaging the truth — that are employed by organizations devoted to nothing more than the bottom line.

Exactly. It is not simply about a long list of individual abuses. It is about the coverup and facilitation of those crimes at the highest levels of the Church. It is about the attitude and expectation of non-accountability to civil authorities for those crimes. It is about the belief that churchmen should be above the law. It is about the corruption of privilege and authority. These men (and they are men, whose disrespect for and harassment of women's religious is an outrage) continue to issue pronouncements seeking to obliterate the wall of separation between church and state and to impose on the rest of us their opposition to women's reproductive freedom and gay people's right to equal protection of the law -- despite the churchmen's utter moral bankruptcy. They have shown themselves highly and aggressively resistant to learning any lessons. And so the Church's destruction from within continues.

(Hat tip: Craig Howell)

July 06, 2013

About the latest death of a baby left in car

WUSA-9 reports:

The mother of a baby who was left to die in a hot car has been charged with felony child neglect, officials say.

Zoraida Magali Conde Hernandez, 32, of Alexandria, left her 8-month-old boy in her vehicle in a parking lot in the 200 block of N. Glebe Rd. for approximately six hours while she went to work, Arlington County Police said.

She noticed the baby in the car when she arrived at daycare to pick up one of her other children, officials said.

To understand this horrifying phenomenon, I recommend Gene Weingarten's Pulitzer-winning article on it, "Fatal Distraction."

Top 5 Reasons for People Being Slow to Exit a Burning Plane

SFO_Asiana_crash_evacuees
(Photo by David Eun from San Francisco International Airport)

Top 5 Reasons for People Being Slow to Exit a Burning Plane:

  1. My laptop contains my unpublished novel!
  2. I have a fetish for being trampled.
  3. I got those Hermes scarves on sale! (A fire sale.)
  4. I can use my duty-free liquor to medicate wounded passengers (including those trampled because I blocked the aisle).
  5. My carry-on contained a missing part from the Tardis.

In case you missed it, here's a tweet from the crash scene at SFO International Airport taken by passenger David Eun, showing at least one evacuating passenger carrying luggage.

PS: apologies if this is too soon. As I post this I have heard of no fatalities. But the picture of a woman carrying her luggage after evacuating the burning Asiana airliner, which was missing its tail section, astounded me. That woman would make a good candidate for a Darwin Award.

Update: reports indicate at least two have died as a result of the crash. Condolences to all the victims and their families. On CNN, Wolf Blitzer began arguing with correspondent Richard Quest over how horrifying the crash was, after Quest reasonably pointed out that it could have been far worse, given the scores of passengers who walked away from it. That exchange made me focus on Blitzer's irritating habits, including repeating everything a la Rachel Maddow (these guys just cannot stop treating us all like nitwits), so I changed the channel. There wasn't sufficient news to justify staying with the story to the exclusion of all else, so various experts were called in to discuss what might have happened without, heaven forfend, speculating. Incidentally, I was inspired to post the above item after seeing a tweet from Mike DeBonis of WaPo noting the same baggage-carrying evacuee from David Eun's photo. My friend Robert said, "She deserved to be trampled." You think I am harsh....

July 02, 2013

LeVar Burton: I put my hands out car window when stopped

From CNN, a discussion of the reality of being black in America.

June 30, 2013

Report: six anti-transgender attacks in D.C. in first week of summer

WUSA 9 reports. Thanks to Ruby Corado for speaking up. We need to shine a light on these crimes and make them a source of public shame. It is simply not acceptable.

June 25, 2013

Drag Performer Viciously Attacked As Crowd Watches And Encourages Fight

Queerty reports:

While customers in a Washington, D.C. restaurant watched, cheered and filmed, drag performer Heidi Glüm sustained multiple injuries during a violent and bloody attack on June 22 which the victim described as "really petty drunk girl nonsense that escalated into insanity."

Glüm, whose real name is Miles DeNiro, told Queerty that female patrons of Manny & Olgas, a popular D.C. pizzeria, approached him and made derogatory comments about his makeup and shoes....

Where was the restaurant staff during the melee? DeNiro told Queerty they remained behind the counter working and ignored the fight. In the video one employee appeared to push his way past the throng of onlookers to carry on with his delivery duties. Equally disturbing is the glee with which the restaurants patrons watched and even encouraged the fight. Some pulled out smart phones to film the fracas and one repeatedly yells "World Star," a hip-hop-oriented website to which he uploaded the video with the pejorative “tranny” used in the title, rather than trying to break it up. DeNiro said he believes the two men who actually tried to stop the fight rushed in from outside the restaurant.

A concerned woman sent me a link to the video at 5:30 pm yesterday. I saw it an hour later and forwarded it to the Metropolitan Police Department's Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit, along with contact info for the victim that the woman sent me. The police only learned about it from me, though apparently some people had been talking about it online all day.

The disturbing video (in which the videographer cheers on the attackers) was removed from YouTube for its offensive content, but it surfaced on a hip-hop website. Such videos of bias-fueled attacks serve as accelerants for some people, which is why I did not post the video and am glad Queerty only posted a still photo. The police are in touch with the victim. The video should help them apprehend the assailants. This was in Manny & Olgas, a pizza shop on 14th Street NW that is open late.

Queerty also shows a racist comment that DeNiro tweeted after the incident, as well as DeNiro's subsequent apology for it. Oy, what a mess. We can do better than this.

Update: It occurs to me, perhaps we should start a media campaign titled, "We Can Do Better."

Update 2: Metro Weekly reports.

June 24, 2013

Prosecutor begins with raw quote from Zimmerman; MSNBC carries f-bomb live

I'm not sure what's wrong with showing the uncensored version in this case. Those words from George Zimmerman from the night he killed Trayvon Martin show his bias and his wannabe-cop mentality.

June 19, 2013

Fruitvale Station portrays 2009 murder by BART police officer

Due for a July release, director Ryan Coogler's drama Fruitvale Station, portrays a real event. The film, produced by Oscar-winning Forest Whitaker, won the Prize of the Future at the Cannes Film Festival.

In the early hours of New Year's Day 2009, unarmed 22-year-old Oscar Grant was shot in the back on the platform of Fruitvale Station in Oakland, California by Bay Area Rapid Transit police officer Johannes Mehserle. Mehserle was subsequently convicted of involuntary manslaughter and served 11 months of a two-year minimum sentence. He said he had accidentally pulled his gun instead of his taser gun.

The disturbing court-released compilation of video from the actual shooting, taken by witnesses with their cell phone cameras, is below. One thing about such incidents that adds insult to outrage is the increasing illegal habit by police of confiscating cell phones from witnesses. If you are doing no wrong, why the need to harass bystanders and destroy evidence?

June 13, 2013

Mission not accomplished: removing military sexual assault prosecution from chain of command

Gillibrand_on_military_sexual_assault

Adele M. Stan writes for RH Reality Check:

Despite its bipartisan support and 27 co-sponsors, Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), the committee chairman, struck from the [Defense Authorization] bill a measure offered by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) that would have moved the adjudication of all serious crimes (such as murder, rape, and sexual assault) into the hands of independent prosecutors in order to create a safer environment and more impartial judicial process for those who have been the targets of assailants in the military ranks.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said:

"I don't personally believe that you can eliminate the command structure in the military from this process because it is the culture," he said. "It is the institution. It is the people within that institution that have to fix the problem, and that's the culture. The people are the culture, so I don't know how you disconnect that from the accountability of command."

The action by Senator Levin and the statement by Secretary Hagel make them unfit for their jobs. There were more than 26,000 military sexual assaults reported last year. The current approach to dealing with the problem is not working. Thank God there are women like Kirsten Gillibrand and Barbara Boxer in the Senate to fight this outrage; but all of us need to back them up.

June 12, 2013

Kos: Old white man decides to leave military sexual assault decisions in the hands of old white men

Military_sexual_assault_hearing

Laura Clawson at Daily Kos slams Senator Carl Levin:

Thanks to Senate Armed Services Committee Chair Carl Levin (D-MI), top military officers will substantially get their way: Solving the problem that's bigger than they imagined will continue to be up to their imagination. Levin is removing Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's proposal to make trained legal experts in the form of military prosecutors in charge of decisions about prosecuting sexual assaults from a defense spending bill....

Basically, the old white men in charge of the military said "trust us, we'll start taking sexual assault seriously and we'll make it stop even though we've done neither to date" and the old white man in charge of the Senate Armed Services Committee said "sounds good to me. How about if we make a cosmetic change that leaves you guys still completely in charge but pretends to add accountability?"

I was screaming at the TV. This is outrageous beyond words.

Blowing a Whistle

Thomas Friedman in NYT makes an excellent point:

Yes, I worry about potential government abuse of privacy from a program designed to prevent another 9/11 — abuse that, so far, does not appear to have happened. But I worry even more about another 9/11. That is, I worry about something that’s already happened once — that was staggeringly costly — and that terrorists aspire to repeat.

I worry about that even more, not because I don’t care about civil liberties, but because what I cherish most about America is our open society, and I believe that if there is one more 9/11 — or worse, an attack involving nuclear material — it could lead to the end of the open society as we know it. If there were another 9/11, I fear that 99 percent of Americans would tell their members of Congress: “Do whatever you need to do to, privacy be damned, just make sure this does not happen again.” That is what I fear most....

So I don’t believe that Edward Snowden, the leaker of all this secret material, is some heroic whistle-blower. No, I believe Snowden is someone who needed a whistle-blower. He needed someone to challenge him with the argument that we don’t live in a world any longer where our government can protect its citizens from real, not imagined, threats without using big data — where we still have an edge — under constant judicial review. It’s not ideal. But if one more 9/11-scale attack gets through, the cost to civil liberties will be so much greater.

I agree. I understand that different people will make the tradeoffs differently. The problem I have is with those who act as if there are no tradeoffs to be made. Sorry, but we do not advance the cause of civil liberties by demanding a collective pretense that all threats to our security are mere fabrications by Big Brother government.

If, God forbid, there is another major terrorist attack on this country, I will be one of those resisting the unreasoning mob mentality that follows. But it is far, far better to prevent the horror from happening. And I appreciate and respect those who are working every day to protect us.

The boastful, exaggerating Mr. Snowden, as he was hiding out from American justice in Hong Kong, said he doesn't want to live in a country that surveils its citizens' communications. So he moved to China? WTF? Seriously, that makes no sense, except to a stampeding media.

June 07, 2013

Texas Says It's OK to Shoot an Escort If She Won't Have Sex With You

This is simply depraved. Gawker reports.

Forget about secession. Can we expel Texas?

May 31, 2013

George Zimmerman Defense Fund Almost Gone As Trial Date Approaches

Well isn't this heartbreaking.

I have a few pieces of Nazi money that my dad stuck in his WWII POW diary as war mementos; maybe I could send that to Zimmerman.

(Hat tip: Mark Thompson/Matsimela Mapfumo)

May 28, 2013

Sierra Leone gay activist survives murder attempt

George_Reginald_Freeman

Africa Review reports:

A Sierra Leonean gay rights activist narrowly escaped death on Wednesday when two unidentified assailants attacked him in his car.

George Reginald Freeman, executive director of Pride Equality, had his car destroyed as he was being beaten by two men on a motor bike who intercepted him while driving in an isolated suburb of the capital, Freetown.

The incident happened on the same day a local tabloid, Exclusive Newspaper, exposed his sexual orientation.

Mr. Freeman and his brave colleagues need and deserve all the help we can give in their struggle. We have so far to go.

(Hat tip: Rod 2.0)

May 25, 2013

Birmingham girls murdered by KKK in 1963 to receive Congressional Gold Medal

Obama_wide-d2cd806832bacbc67930d72c8078350f5efc975a-s40

NPR reports:

They were just little girls when they were killed in 1963, in what came to be known as the 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing. And now Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley have been awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, nearly 50 years after the attack in Birmingham, Ala.

President Obama signed the legislation Friday to award the girls — all of them 14, except for McNair, who was 11 — with the highest honor Congress can bestow upon a civilian.

The girls' deaths, from dynamite hidden under a bathroom by white supremacists, helped propel the 1964 Civil Rights Act through Congress. They were eulogized by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who famously asked, "What murdered these little girls?" — a sentiment echoed in director Spike Lee's film about the incident, 4 Little Girls.

This is beautiful news. The murdered girls would now be in their 60s. This story is as vivid a lesson in man's capacity for hatred and cruelty as I can imagine. As it was reported and retold, it seared into many Americans' minds the truth about the terrorism under which millions of African Americans lived for so long. This holiday weekend honors those who died in America's wars; but Addie Mae, Carole, Cynthia, and Denise died for our country too. Here is to their memory.

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