Murder on A Florida Street

George Zimmerman thought Florida’s Stand Your Ground NRA backed bill gave the racist in him a license to kill.  Trayvon Martin, a 17 year old walking home from a 7 Eleven was his victim.  Trayvon had the audacity to “walk while Black” through Zimmerman’s community.  Of course it was also Martin’s community and Zimmerman stalked, hunted, and shot him as if Trayvon were a wild animal instead of a teenager buying Skittles and iced tea on his way home.

When the National Rifle Association pushed Florida to adopt the legislation legalizing murder (similar to our new “castle doctrine” law) I wrote that I wouldn’t consider traveling to Florida again because the law made it a dangerous place.  Since then the spate of legal murders like Martin’s have made that a fact.  Anyone who goes to Florida is risking their life.

The facts of this case are plain:  a teenage high school student decided to go to his local convenience store for a snack.  Zimmerman, NOT a member of the neighborhood watch group (erroneously reported as such on NPR) drove past him and called police to report a suspicious person.  His crime:  walking while Black.  Zimmerman told police “they always get away with this.”  Well, yes, people get away with walking down streets in America all the time.

He then followed Trayvon even though police explicitly told him not to.  He confronted the young man and murdered him.  He then invoked the state’s Stand Your Ground law and claimed self defense.  Since when does a 250 pound man in a car feel threatened by a 140 pound teenager carrying Skittles?  Zimmerman was carrying a 9mm handgun.  The Sanford, Florida police department told witnesses who came forward to say the boy had called for help were told by cops that that wasn’t true.  The police cover up of this crime has been as outrageous as anything else related to it.  The Department of Justice is now investigating the Martin murder as a hate crime.

There must be justice for Trayvon Martin.  These NRA laws are nothing more than legalized murder for racists.  Welcome to the 21st century version of lynching.

Afternoon Update

Its been a busy week with lots happening.  I had two White House calls yesterday about Obama’s fiscal irresponsibility and another today with Mayor Nutter.  I hung up after listening to Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx state that “we can’t spend our way out of this recession.”  Obviously he isn’t an economist.  The White House is using morons like these to support their misguided policy?  No wonder we’re in a mess and sinking deeper.

Sen. Casey announced he has $2.1 million cash on hand after raising $1.1 million the first quarter.  He’s had full time fund raisers working since last fall raising money for 2012.  No wonder the GOP is looking at potted plants for a challenger.

Our own fringe whack job Rep. Daryl Metcalfe introduced a Birther Bill yesterday.  It would require any candidate for president or VP to provide proof of their birth in the U.S.  I say we amend it to say anyone running for the state legislature prove their sanity.  That may be the best method for ridding ourselves of Mr. Metcalfe.

For some reason the major media have been ignoring the biggest story in the country which is the huge wealth gap dividing the 1% top tier from the rest of us.  Meanwhile even networks like NPR are perpetuating myths being spread by lying conservatives.  I was listening to a show this morning (about 8:45 AM) when Congressman Camp repeated the lie that 50% of all the top 2% are small business owners.  His pants should be on fire because it is patently false.  The NPR person failed to call him out on the lie.  Maybe we should defund them since they’re failing to provide real news any longer.

The differences between the top 1% and the rest of the country is a recipe for revolution and no one is talking about this issue.   Nothing else should even be on the agenda until it is addressed and reformed.  The only place you’ll hear about it is on blogs and places like AlterNet and Truthout.  Here’s a piece about how a hedge fund manager can earn more in an hour as middle class households in 47 years.  This is the stuff we should be discussing on TV.

Here’s a snippet from the article:

Just take a look at the latest reports on what the top hedge fund managers haul in. In 2010 John Paulson led the list with a record $4.9 billion in personal earnings. That’s a whopping $2.4 million an HOUR. Here’s a factoid to make you wretch: It would take the median US household over 47 years to earn as much as Paulson pocketed in just 60 minutes. And, every hedge fund manager pays a lower tax rate than the average family.

Rick Santorum’s campaign slogan was borrowed from a poem by Langston Hughes.  The African-American union, civil rights and gay rights supporter coined the term “let America be America again.”  Oops.  I guess Santorum doesn’t use the Google.  Of course considering the results it brings on his own name we cannot blame the guy.

The Yes Men and US Uncut combined to sting GE over its failure to pay any federal taxes.  In fact the huge corporation has earned $27 billion the last five years and paid $0.  The group issued a fake press release saying GE would “do the right thing” and voluntarily pay.  Of course they’ll do no such thing.

Should Crooked Prosecutors Be Liable?

In a 5-4 decision the Supreme Court has ruled that prosecutorial misconduct, even egregious violations of law, are not liable for damages.  In other words crooked prosecutors can throw anyone they want in prison and be free from all liability for their actions.  This is yet another extreme decision from an extreme Court.

Louisiana has long been upheld as a sinkhole of corruption.  Just last week cops were finally sentenced for gunning down victims of Hurricane Katrina.  The New Orleans police force is infamous for its corruption and even state Governors routinely seem to find new residences in prisons.  In the case of Raymond Liuzza Jr. DA Harry Connick (the singer’s father) oversaw a rogue prosecution which wrongfully imprisoned a man for 18 years.  Rules were broken and critical evidence illegally withheld from the court.

If we cannot and do not have a system of justice which is, indeed, blind, which guarantees a fair trial to all, we have no rule of law.  Unfortunately five Justices do not seem to comprehend this concept.  They ruled that Mr. Liuzza has no recourse for suing for his wrongful conviction and lost 18 years.  I believe he should and I believe all the prosecutors involved should be arrested and prosecuted for their conduct.  Egregious and illegal conduct under color of the law should be a criminal act whether conducted by police, sheriffs or prosecutors.  While most people hold defense lawyers in low esteem they perform a critical role in our system:  trying to insure the prosecution is fair, that their clients receive fair trials, and that prosecutorial misconduct be checked as much as possible.

Our courts have rules, rules which are designed to afford every person charged with a crime the chance for a fair trial.  When those rules are breached the basis of our civilization is at risk.  

Cantor on Social Security: Truth or Misspeaking?

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is under fire today for telling NPR his vision of America doesn’t include Social Security and Medicare.  The Republican from Virginia has 100,000 constituents on the program so he is now claiming he misspoke.  The quote:

I mean, just from the very notion that it said that 50 percent of beneficiaries under the Social Security program use those moneys as their sole source of income.  So we’ve got to protect today’s seniors.  But for the rest of us? For – you know, listen. We’re going to have to come to grips with the fact that these programs cannot exist if we want America to be what we want America to be.

Was it the truth, a Freudian slip or did he screw up and forgot to say what he meant?  It’s tough to figure someone as accomplished as the House Majority Leader would make a statement like this and claim he didn’t mean it.  Which part didn’t he mean?  Let’s take a look at what we’re seeing the Republicans revealing about the “America we want to be.”

President George W. Bush tried privatizing Social Security in 2005.  Then Sen. Rick Santorum went on a tour around Pennsylvania shortly thereafter promoting the plan which would send billions of dollars in investment fees to Wall Street bankers so they could gamble away our retirements.  We caught this video when he entered his town hall at Drexel University back then:

Now and then Republicans screw up and allow their real agenda to appear.  Cantor’s vision of America is obviously one where the elderly are impoverished and dependent upon the largess of their children for survival.   Disabled persons should simply crawl away and perish rather than receive medical care and a stipend to help them survive.  It is an America without child labor laws, unions, teachers and public schools, workplace safety, limits on banker’s salaries, a middle class, regulations for the robber barons of Wall Street, medical care, abortion services, equal pay for women, taxes for the richest Americans, restrictions on oil and gas companies, regulation of greenhouse gases, no renewable energy, no teaching of science in schools, no restrictions on guns and ammunition, no restrictions on fraudulent banking practices and securities, and the suppression of the vote for demographics who vote Democratic.

We are seeing Cantor’s vision for America playing out in Congress and statehouses all across the nation but we’re supposed to believe his statement about Social Security and Medicare were in error?  That he simply misspoke?  I report, you decide.

News & Notes November 22, 2010

The Pope announced the church will now allow HIV+ gay male prostitutes to use condoms so as to prevent the spread of disease.  This is a complete reversal of the Roman Catholic’s practices in Africa where, for decades, they have told people that condoms cause AIDS.  In this respect the church has been an agent of serial killing leaving untold numbers of orphaned children in its wake.  So much for infallibility.

Lancaster County Commissioners voted to disband the county’s Human Relations Commission and now minorities have no recourse against discrimination other than the state Board.  Republicans across the Commonwealth seem determined to get rid of as many of these protective Boards as possible so they can openly discriminate.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Ron Castille is being criticized for accepting expensive gifts from clients whose cases he hears.  This is a direct conflict of interest whether they affect his decisions or not.  The simple appearance of such conflicts raises doubts about the integrity of courts and the Justices and Judges who decide important legal cases.  Following the scandals of recent years this shows poor judgment on the part of Justice Castille.

Debate about repealing tax cuts for the rich seem to be dragging on incessantly.  The Bush cuts which mostly benefited the top 2% of people are set to expire at the end of the year.  Republicans insist on keeping them although they campaigned aggressively against the deficit they created on the backs of these cuts, the wars and failed economic policies.  You cannot have your cake and eat it too.  If nothing is done the middle class, or what’s left of it, will see their taxes increase because when Bush and the GOP passed the bill they chose to have these expire at the end of 2010.  Though it was their decision to do so watch them blame Democrats.  The GOP is expert at the blame game deflecting personal responsibility for their failures onto their foes.

They are also opposing a food safety bill in Congress while agribusiness receives huge welfare subsidies and endangers the public with bad agricultural and manufacturing practices.  As more and more sludge, for example, is spread onto fields more and more vegetables are being poisoned with e coli and other pathogens.  If we cannot regulate our food supply to insure its safety we not a civilized nation.

The START Treaty negotiations may make all that moot.  Again, Republican Senators bent on destroying the Administration at any cost are blocking ratification.  As such we are unable to inspect and observe Russian missile sites.  When Reagan signed the first SALT Treaty he said we must trust but also verify.  With the expiration of START we are now unable to verify.  The GOP is endangering the country in return for perceived political gain.  What happened to “Country First?”

Fox News is at it again attempting to destroy another organization.  This time they are targeting NPR because it fired Fox darling Juan Williams (for cause).  The network which features Glenn Beck, a known Nazi sympathizer, is calling NPR Nazi.  Williams was a news analyst who frequently used Fox as a platform to air his biased political opinions making his analysis on NPR questionable.  I recall becoming aware of this several years ago so NPR was actually quite patient with his ethical lapses.  Of course Fox has no issue with ethical lapses because they have no ethics.

Berks County DA John Adams continues to be targeted by animal rights groups for allowing abusive and inhumane pigeon shoots in the county.  This time a group protested outside the courthouse.  Adams is up for re-election next year so these organizations could have a field day embarrassing him in public if they so choose.

Did you hear about the Maryland (CD 1) doctor elected to Congress who showed up complaining about his new government health insurance?  Trying to illustrate what he thought was an inadequacy he protested that he has to endure a 28 day waiting period before getting coverage.  This elitist representing the Eastern and Upper Shore has been out of touch for too long.  While 59 million American have NO health care and millions of working people wait months for coverage when changing jobs this asshole is crying about 28 days.  Maybe he can simply use his COBRA benefits, something else Republicans oppose.

News & Notes October 22, 2010

Several controversies are distracting from the upcoming election as racism issues take over the national discourse.  Last week conservative NPR news analyst Juan Williams appeared on Fox News, his other gig, to help Bill O’Reilly defend his comments on The View that Muslims attacked us on 9/11 and, therefore, all Muslims are terrorists.  I sure am glad I’m not a Christian considering all the atrocities, genocides and other crimes committed by those of that religion!  Stereotyping everyone of a class, race or group is dangerous and Williams joined O’Reilly in defending such demagoguery.  He was summarily fired by NPR for the ethics violation.  This followed several warnings that his Fox work compromised his work for NPR.

The right wing noise machine geared up in outrage over this issue and Fox gave him a $2 million contract.  It sure is profitable to be a bigot these days.  Where was all this conservative outrage when Helen Thomas and Rick Sanchez got fired?  Sanchez was one of the few reasons to watch CNN though what he said was wrong and offensive.  Still, I miss his show.  Its all much ado about nothing.

The other racial controversy surrounds Ginny Thomas, wife of SCOTUS Jurist Clarence Thomas.  She left a mysterious message for Anita Hill asking for an apology for her husband’s inexcusable sexual harassment of his aide and her subsequent testimony about it 19 years ago.  Isn’t it Justice Thomas who owes the apology?

Speaking of Thomas, it seems he and Justice Scalia attended a political organizational meeting sponsored by the Koch brothers of Tea Party fame.  The Kochs have funded most of the ultra right wing operations for years and have pumped millions into the Tea Party and various front groups.  Is it really proper for sitting Justices to engage in blatant partisan activity outside of Bush v Gore?

Meanwhile the NAACP has issued a report detailing racism inside the Tea Party.  This also is getting pushback by the right wing who doesn’t want to confuse voters about its agenda directly before the election.  Of course the fact white supremacists are documented to be involved in the fringe groups doesn’t seem to count as racism.  I suppose this is simply more evidence that tea baggers live in some parallel universe where reality doesn’t exist.

Jim Gerlach got caught lying about support he’s getting.  It seems he lied to a reporter asking about an $85,000 effort done for him and reported in public documents.  The Congressman should realize lying about something easily verifiable makes him appear stupid.  It also shows his true side:  someone wiling to say or do anything to win re-election.

State Senate candidate Ruth Damsker (12th) has a neat animated ad about her opponent Stewart Greenleaf.  The incumbent used to be the kind of moderate Republican who worked across the aisle and got things done.  Not lately.  Greenleaf has become a radical extremist unwilling to compromise.  The GOP controlled state Senate has blocked budgets and just killed a severance tax on shale drilling for natural gas.  Pennsylvania, starved for revenue resources, is already out $100 million while energy companies remove a precious resource belonging to Pennsylvanians.  They aren’t paying a dime while destroying local infrastructure, polluting water supplies and paying off politicians to allow them to continue unregulated.  Stewart Greenleaf has become part of the problem in Harrisburg.

Republican State Representative candidate Justin Simmons is under investigation for accepting help from groups who haven’t reported their financial involvement in his race unseating Karen Beyer last May.  The race in Allentown saw two organizations, Young Conservatives of Pennsylvania and Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania spend money on Simmons’ behalf.  In fact they spent tens of thousands of dollars influencing the primary election and have not reported those or the sources of those funds as required by state law.  How does Justin think he can be a lawmaker when he doesn’t respect or obey the law?

Penn State, Drexel Win Nuclear Energy Grants

The Department of Energy today awarded $38 million in grants to universities for generation IV nuclear energy research.  Drexel is receiving $1,149,327 and Penn State $2,377,444 to further the fourth generation of nuclear power technology.  I listened to WHYY’s Radio Times coming home from doing Democratic Talk Radio and listened to an esteemed scientist say this safe, efficient and a potential solution to global warming.  I’m not sure but I’ll be studying the data and information.  Being of an age where I vividly remember Three Mile Island and all the lies told us by the energy industry at the time concerning safety I’m a serious skeptic.

DOE says this:

The goal of this research area is to research and develop the next generation of nuclear reactors that will produce more energy and create less waste.  The focus is developing new reactor technologies with higher safety, economic, and sustainability performance. The program will involve research on crosscutting technologies that will accelerate the development of advanced reactor concepts, including fuels, materials, and reactor modeling. The program also investigates small and medium-sized reactor concepts.  If commercially successful, small modular reactors would significantly expand the options for nuclear power and its applications, and may prove advantageous compared to the Generation III+ nuclear plants in terms of economics, performance, and security.  The research program is focused on the key technology challenges for these concepts and supports cross-cutting activities, including Modeling and Simulation, Structural Materials, Energy Conversion, Nuclear Instrumentation and Control, and Innovative Manufacturing Approaches. Project awardees in this area are below.  Actual project funding will be established during contract negotiation phase.

The grants involve fuel cycle research and development, generation IV reactor research and development, light water reactor sustainability and mission-relevant investigator-initiated research.  Penn State has always been a leader in nuclear research.  I remember in my undergraduate days (yes, many, many moons ago) going past the University reactor.