upporters of an Oklahoma City police officer who was charged with raping or sexually abusing eight black women have raised more than $7,000 for the 27-year-old cop.
Daniel Holtzclaw was arrested in August on charges of rape, forcible oral sodomy, sexual battery, and indecent exposure for allegedly sexually assaulting women while on patrol. He is being held on $5 million bond.
Friends and family of the three-year veteran of the Oklahoma City Police Department have created a Facebook page called “Justice for Daniel Holtzclaw.” They insist the criminal allegations against him are false, and have been using the page to try to sell shirts that read, “Free the Claw” and “#JusticeForDanielHoltzclaw.”
More than 500 people have “liked” the Facebook page.
Supporters of Holtzclaw have also launched a crowdfunding campaign on the websiteGoFundMe. The page was created by Holtzclaw’s sister, who hopes to raise $100,000 for her brother, according to MLive.com. The crowdfunding campaign has raised $7,390 so far.
“The pursuit of Justice will be lengthy, but with the support of Family, Friends, and the Community, Daniel Holtzclaw will be vindicated and justice will prevail,” the page states. “All funds raised will assist Daniel and his Family as they seek the JUSTICE Daniel Holtzclaw so rightly deserves.”
Prosecutors claim that Holtzclaw stopped women, who were all black and between the ages of 34 and 58, while on patrol and threatened to arrest them or physically harm them unless they exposed themselves, allowed him to fondle them, or had sex with him.
McCulloch is investigating Brown’s shooting by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. However, protesters and many community members generally have argued that his background makes it impossible for him to objectively run the case. Getting McCulloch to step aside has been one of the primary demands protesters have made in the weeks following Brown’s death.
Monday’s protest was brief; the freeway was only supposed to be shut for four and a half minutes to represent the four and a half hours Michael Brown’s body reportedly lay in the street.
During the two weeks after Brown’s death, numerous protesters also told BuzzFeed they were particularly upset that Brown’s body was left in the street for hours. Many in the community felt that it was disrespectful both for Brown and passersby, and that if Brown had been white the situation would have been handled differently.
Earlier Monday afternoon, it looked as though the freeway blockade wouldn’t happen.
Protesters had discussed shutting down Interstate 270, but toldThe St. Louis Post-Dispatch they ultimately opted to postpone the event. “Until our demands are met it’s still on the table — some kind of highway action. When we’re ready we’ll tell everyone about it,” organizer Zaki Baruti told the paper Monday.
The call to postpone the protest came from Michael Brown’s family, the Post-Dispatch reported. The fact that some protesters opted to disregard Brown’s family’s request emphasizes the fact that the protests are populated by a diverse group of people who at times have differing views on what should happen.
Police were on the scene as the protesters blocked the freeway Monday, but members of Argus Streaming News said there were no conflicts and the protest remained orderly.
FERGUSON • A planned protest to briefly shut down highways in the St. Louis area Monday has been postponed at the request of Michael Brown’s family, one of the protest
FERGUSON • A planned protest to briefly shut down highways in the St. Louis area Monday has been postponed at the request of Michael Brown’s family, one of the protest organizers said.
"This is a postponement," organizer Zaki Baruti told reporters outside the Ferguson police department Monday afternoon. "Until our demands are met it’s still on the table - some kind of highway action. When we’re ready we’ll tell everyone about it."
Organizers had called for drivers to block area highways at 4:30 p.m. for 4 1/2 minutes today to protest Brown’s shooting. The time of the protest is meant to symbolize the 4 1/2 hours some say Brown’s body lay in the street after the shooting.
Protester demands include dismissing Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, who fatally shot Brown, and removing St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch from the investigation into the death of Brown, 18, on Aug. 9.
UPDATE: Rams don’t sign Sam to their practice squad, but a team in the Canadian Football League is reportedly now interested.
Michael Sam, the first openly gay player drafted into the NFL, was not claimed by any NFL team after he was cut from the St. Louis Rams Saturday.
Getty Images / Marc Serota
Once the Rams dropped Sam from their final roster, he was on “waivers,” meaning that other NFL teams had until noon today to take him. Based on last year’s win-loss record, the worst team in the league had the first chance to pick him up, and the best team had the last chance.
Still, Sam can sign to the practice squad for any NFL team — and the Rams are expected to sign him to their 10-man practice unit, according to league sources cited by ESPN.
Update - Sep. 1, 4:08 p.m., ET: Michael Sam is not a part of the St. Louis Rams’ 10-player practice squad. The club made an announcement this afternoon, naming their practice squad roster. According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, the Montreal Alouettes are interested in signing Sam, potentially sending him to the Canadian Football League.
In mid-August, the Chicago Tribunepublished a poll showing that Karen Lewis, the outspoken president of the Chicago Teachers Union, was leading Rahm Emanuel, 43 percent to 39 percent, in a hypothetical 2015 mayoral race.
Lewis led a 2012 strike after Emanuel tried to impose longer school days with no pay increases (she got her teachers a raise), and vociferously opposed the closing of 50 schools, which were mostly in black neighborhoods. During a pre-strike rally, she called the mayor “a liar and a bully.” Emanuel returned her contempt, shouting “Fuck you, Lewis!” during a tense private meeting. Lewis recently filed papers to raise money for a possible run against the man she labeled “the murder mayor,” because of Chicago’s high crime rate, and she has a pledge of $1 million from the American Federation of Teachers.
If Lewis wins, or even mounts a credible campaign, she will become the most prominent labor leader in America. In that role, she’ll be an appropriate successor to John L. Lewis, Jimmy Hoffa and Walter Reuther, those crusty avatars of mining, trucking and manufacturing. As an African-American, a woman and a professional (she has a sociology degree from Dartmouth), Lewis is the face of the 21st century unionism, which has been transformed from a movement devoted to protecting the safety and livelihoods of blue-collar workers to a stronghold of white-collar liberalism.
Over the past 30 years, labor has been feminized, professionalized, politicized and regionalized. In the 1970s, Archie Bunker, a loading dock foreman, was a staunch unionist. Today, his son-in-law, grad student Mike Stivic, would be the union member.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the most unionized job category is “education, training and library occupations” at 35.4 percent. That’s a field dominated by women, many with master’s degrees. (In fact, the Center for Economic and Policy Research predicts that by 2020, a majority of union members will be women.) Meanwhile, in manufacturing, the macho vocation that gave birth to the modern labor movement, the unionization rate has plummeted from 30 percent in 1983, around the time the term “Rust Belt” entered the popular consciousness, to 9.4 percent today. Workers in manufacturing are now less likely to be unionized than the workforce as a whole. During those three decades of deindustrialization, the United Auto Workers’ membership dropped from 1.2 million to 390,000. That’s mainly due to robots replacing line workers, and the loss of market share to foreign manufacturers. Because when those foreign manufacturers build plants in the United States, they build in the South, a region hostile to unionism.
Earlier this year, the UAW tried to organize a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Despite the tacit support of the company, which needed an independent union to form a European-style works council, the UAW lost the election, 712-626. Before the vote, the anti-union faction, which called itself Southern Momentum, invoked cultural, regional, racial and political resentments to persuade the conservative white men working in the plant that a union was a threat not only to their livelihoods, but to their way of life. Billboards labeled the Democratic-leaning union the United Obama Workers and presented ruin porn images of the derelict Packard Motors plant alongside the slogan, “Detroit: Brought to you by the UAW.” A pamphlet distributed to workers compared the Northern union’s campaign to a campaign by the Union Army in the Civil War: “One hundred and fifty years ago … the people of Tennessee routed such a force in the Battle of Chickamauga.”
(When I heard a Sheet Metal Workers business agent from Syracuse theorize that Southerners dislike unions because “the name reminds them of the Union Army,” I thought he was nuts. Since Chattanooga, I think he may have been on to something. The man’s own local lost most of its members when the Carrier Corp. moved its air-conditioner manufacturing plants to Georgia and Tennessee — and told union employees they weren’t welcome to follow their jobs. Bottom line: If you buy a BMW built in Alabama, or a Toyota built in Mississippi, you’re not helping the American labor movement.)
Contrast that with the UAW’s campaign to organize graduate employees at New York University — exactly the kind of job Mike Stivic would have held. The union won that vote 620-10. It was a gimme. The UAW was dealing with teachers in the most heavily unionized state in the nation. In New York, 23.2 percent of workers belong to a union. In Tennessee, 4.8 percent do. (Only Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina are less unionized.)
In post-industrial, politically polarized America, it’s easier to organize Northern academics than Southern factory workers. Union membership used to be a matter of economic self-interest, divorced from political or cultural concerns. In the 1960s, union members — who were disproportionately Roman Catholic — could support the New Deal welfare state, while also backing the Vietnam War, racially restrictive housing covenants and bans on abortion and birth control. Richard Nixon — who used to call his ideal voter “a 47-year-old machinist’s wife outside Dayton” — won his 1972 landslide with a “blue-collar strategy” that attracted the support of white male unionists. Many were voting Republican for the first time, out of disgust for the counterculture represented by Nixon’s opponent, George McGovern. They were personified by Archie Bunker, with his strident admiration for “Richard E. Nixon.”
That election was the beginning of a realignment that found the labor movement on the opposite side of a political divide from the white men who once formed the backbone of its membership. Now, support for labor is just another blue state trait, like support for gun control or Obamacare. In states won by Barack Obama in 2012, 13.1 percent of workers belong to a union. In states won by Mitt Romney: 7.2. Collective bargaining is inimical to the conservative ideal of individualism. Unions are “socialist.” In 1983, over half of union members were white men. Now, a little over a third are. In New York City, site of the famous Hard Hat Riot, in which union construction workers attacked students protesting the Kent State shootings, less than a quarter of union members are white men.
It used to be that belonging to a labor union made you a Democrat. Now, being a Democrat is more likely to make you a union member. Blacks are more likely to be unionized than whites. College-educated whites are more likely to be unionized than non-college whites. Public sector employees are more likely to belong to unions than private sector employees. Teachers and librarians vote overwhelmingly Democratic, not because they’re union members, but because the combination of low pay and intellectual inquiry in those professions attracts liberals. And since most union members now work in the public sector, the war on unions has become a front in the larger conservative war on government. (The one exception: cops and firefighters, who have a 34 percent unionization rate. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker left them out of his ban on collective bargaining by public employees, because they tend to be white and conservative. Cops and firefighters can’t strike, though, and are more likely to belong to benevolent associations than full-fledged unions.)
Rahm Emanuel has never been a friend of the labor movement. Bill Clinton’s point man on shepherding the North American Free Trade Agreement through Congress, he was a key figure in the Democrats’ realignment from a party of working people to a party of Wall Street, encouraging the party to responded to labor’s weakness by shifting its donor base from unions to socially liberal financiers. Told as White House chief of staff, that tens of thousands of autoworkers could lose their jobs if General Motors and Chrysler didn’t receive a federal bailout, he responded: “Fuck the UAW.”
Emanuel helped vanquish Old Labor as a force in American politics. Now he’s facing the political fight of his life, against a representative of the New Labor that’s taking its place.
BEIJING – China’s top legislative body approved a tightly controlled framework for the 2017 election of Hong Kong’s leader Sunday, possibly paving the way for civil unrest that has plagued the country under Chinese rule.
The former British colony on the south China coast was returned to the mainland in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” arrangement where it kept many civil liberties that remain unthinkable in the rest of China. But Beijing retains ultimate power and chooses Hong Kong’s leader, called the Chief Executive, through a pro-Beijing committee.
Democratic activists have led a vigorous campaign — including mass protests — to demand an open choice of candidates at the 2017 election. But on Sunday, Beijing announced its widely expected decision to permit only two to three candidates.
The chief executive hopefuls can enter the ballot after obtaining over 50% support of a committee of 1,200 people that are likely to be highly loyal to Beijing, rather than representative of the territory’s 7.2 million population.
The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, China’s rubber-stamp parliament, said in its decision that universal suffrage — the right to vote — at the 2017 election will represent “historic progress” for Hong Kong. It justified its method of selecting the Chief Executive by insisting that these “institutional safeguards” are necessary for Hong Kong’s “long-term prosperity and stability,” and to uphold the whole country’s “sovereignty, security and development interests.”
Hong Kong’s democrats quickly reacted with disappointment. They threatened more civil disobedience, mostly in the form of occupying and shutting down the central business district.
The NPC decision “leaves no room for us to fight for a genuinely democratic system, and we will begin our campaign for peaceful, non-violent struggle,” said Joseph Cheng, the convener of the Alliance for True Democracy, a coalition of groups advocating universal suffrage in Hong Kong.
"We want to tell the world we haven’t given up. We will continue to fight," said Cheng, according to Reuters.
"The road of dialogue has come to the end," said Benny Tai, co-founder of Occupy Central with Love and Peace, the most high-profile protest group pushing for electoral reforms. Occupy Central will mobilize a long-term campaign fighting for democracy, said Tai, according to the South China Morning Post, a Hong Kong-based newspaper.
"It is kind of the worst case scenario for democrats in Hong Kong," said Michael Davis, a constitutional law expert at the University of Hong Kong. "The decision just totally embraces the current election committee for selecting candidates. The writing is very clearly on the wall: the government will not be genuinely expanding the constituency of the committee."
Beijing has insisted on candidate vetting of such a level that “it is almost dishonest to claim this model is universal suffrage,” David said.
In China, officials defended Beijing’s hard line. Openly nominating candidates would create a “chaotic society”, the deputy secretary general of the NPC’s Standing Committee, Li Fei, told a news conference Sunday.
"These rights come from laws, they don’t come from the sky," the Associated Press quoted him as saying. "Many Hong Kong people have wasted a lot of time discussing things that are not appropriate and aren’t discussing things that are appropriate."
Authorities in China, where the Communist Party has ruled since 1949, unopposed and unelected, have successfully persuaded many citizens that major political reform would only bring chaos and economic disaster.
"It challenges their very political nature to allow a free and open society to function," Davis said. China remains "a political system that wants to control everything. This wild and wooly Hong Kong is not something that their instincts favor."
FERGUSON • Police officers here began wearing body cameras on Saturday as marchers took to the streets in the most recent protest of a shooting two weeks earlier by a city officer that left an unarmed teenager dead.
Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson said his department was given about 50 body cameras by two companies, Safety Visions and Digital Ally, about a week ago. The companies donated the body cameras after the Aug. 9 shooting death of Michael Brown Jr. by Ferguson officer Darren Wilson.
Company representatives were at the police department on Saturday training officers to use the devices that attach touniforms and record video and audio. Some members of the police department have been specially trained on the devices’ use.
“We are still playing with them,” Jackson said.
The cameras are being assigned to squads and each officer will get one to use, he said.
Jackson said the officers had the devices on during the protest march on Saturday and were able to capture video images of crowd members taunting officers.
“The quality is good,” he said.
The batteries in the cameras that were used on Saturday were drained because of their constant use throughout the day. “Under normal use the battery would last a full shift,” Jackson said.
Officers are receptive to the cameras, the chief said. “They are really enjoying them,” he said. “They are trying to get used to using them.”
The police department bought three dash mount cameras that it does not have the money to install, he said.
Video recordings are seen as a way to allow judges and juries to follow police-involved events as they unfold, helping to shed light through the often-conflicting or hazy recollections of eyewitnesses.
In the wake of Brown’s shooting, other police departments in the St. Louis area are also moving toward the use of wearable cameras. Ellisville approved a $7,500 expenditure shortly after the shooting to buy cameras for its officers.
They are also catching on elsewhere. Earlier this month, a New York City official championed a $5 million pilot program to outfit 15 percent of the city’s police officers with wearable cameras.
Michael Sam had hoped to become the NFL’s first out player but was cut from the Rams on Saturday and not picked up by any other team by the deadline.
Michael Sam’s chances of playing in the NFL got worse today as every team let the window close on a chance to pick him up, reportsESPN.
The Rams cut the out defensive end from its roster on Saturday in favor of another rookie, Ethan Westbrooks, who had been undrafted. After putting Sam on waiver, teams had 24 hours to sign him, but none did.
Now ESPN reports that Sam must focus on making a practice squad. Even there, the Rams won’t say if they will take Sam.
Sam reacted to Saturday’s news in a statement shared on social media, seeming hopeful about eventually making a team.
"The most worthwhile things in life rarely come easy, this is a lesson I’ve always known," he said. "The journey continues."
Whether Sam deserved a spot on the Rams or another NFL team is hotly debated. Outsports described the Rams’ decision as solely based on which positions were available but said homophobia did “play a role” in his being passed over by the other 31 teams.
"Sam has proven he can play in the NFL," wrote the site’s co-founders, Jim Buzinski and Cyd Zeigler, in a joint editorial. “Only a couple other players have more sacks this preseason than his three. In a league that places a high value on pass rushers, and continues to develop rules that help passing offenses, guys like Sam are coveted. Sacks aside, he’s played well or very well in each of his three preseason games.”
Super Bowl-winning coach Tony Dungy made headlines for saying in Juy that he wouldn’t have taken Sam if he still led a team. Dungy said Sam “should have a chance to play, but I wouldn’t want to deal with all of it.”
Sam’s preseason has obviously not been devoid of homophobia. In one of the clearest incidents, happening in the week before Sam was cut, ESPN reported on whether fellow Rams players were showering with their openly gay teammate. The network apologized afterward and some on the team publicly voiced disappointment with the coverage, which included anonymous worries by Rams players about showering together.
When Sam was drafted at number 249 of 256 players, the first uproar started because he kissed his boyfriend to celebrate while ESPN was broadcasting live. An online kiss-in started over the aggressively homophobic reaction that the kiss sparked across social media.
Almost immediately, Sam’s jersey for the Rams was a top-seller, showing his huge support. Even One Direction member Harry Styles sported a jersey during a concert in St. Louis. It was ranked second among rookies in sales only to star Johnny Manziel — who Sam sacked during the preseason. And Outmagazine put Sam on the cover of its sports issue.
Sam has been the target of the usual antigay voices. When the antigay Westboro Church picketed a basketball game that Sam was attending, thousands of supporters lined up outside to counter. Peter LaBarbera, president of the antigay organization Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, wrote an open letter encouraging Sam to get so-called reparative therapy and warned against his influence on black youth. A right-wing lobbyist named Jack Burkman pushed for national legislation that would ban any professional sports team from employing a player who “has openly declared himself to be a homosexual.”
But even with all of that, Rams coach Jeff Fisher told reporters yet again on Saturday, according to The New York Times, that Sam wasn’t a distraction. “He’s not about drawing attention to himself,” he said. “He kept his head down and worked and you can’t ask anything more out of any player for that matter.”
“I can’t think of a problem in society that can’t be traced in some way back to the abuses of organized labor, so it would be hypocritical of us to take a day off on its behalf,” said the Freedom Foundation’s CEO Tom McCabe.
Times columnist Danny Westneat pointed out that if McCabe really wants to protest union-led reforms in the workplace, then he should work every Saturday, as well.
“What’s odd about it, though,” Westneat wrote, “is that only 12 percent of American workers even belong to unions anymore. Yet we — I say ‘we’ because I’m in that 12 percent — somehow retain an almost supernatural mind-meld authority over the oppressed and hapless other 88 percent.”
“The 787 is now being called ‘a case study in how not to build an airplane,’” Westneat said. The jets were grounded all over the world after serious problems were found in their electrical systems and fuel lines, costing the company billions.
“It was the workers who warned that the program wasn’t going to fly, and management who ignored them,” Westneat wrote. “Yet it was management who were handsomely rewarded, while the workers — when they weren’t saving the Dreamliner debacle from imploding — who had their retirements slashed.”
“But let’s all protest against this and stagnant wages and outsourced jobs and all the other realities of work in America by…working on Labor Day!” the columnist concluded, saying that he isn’t just taking Monday off, “I’m boycotting Tuesday, too!”
For many political analysts, it’s an established truism that religion — for better or worse — is a force to be reckoned with in American politics. The religious affiliation of candidates (or lack thereof) is at least a minor point of discussion in virtually every election, and pundits regularly pour over data about the “Evangelical vote,” the “Catholic vote,” and even the “nonreligious vote.” Implicit in all of this number-crunching is the idea that when it comes to a American voter’s political opinions, religion matters.
But despite all the attention given to the voting patterns of the faithful, the question remains: does where you go to church (or temple, or mosque, or service, etc.) actually dictate your political views? A new chart, compiled by Tobin Grant of the Religion News Service and using data from Pew Research’s 2008 Religious Landscape Survey, takes a stab at answering this question by visually illustrating the general political beliefs of religious people on two policy questions. In it, an individual’s income bracket — and political opinions generally reflective of one’s economic situation — looks to coincide with what “kind” of church he/she attends. Except for when it doesn’t:
CREDIT: TOBIN GRANT, RELIGION NEWS SERVICE. CLICK HERE FOR A LARGER VERSION WITH MORE INFORMATION.
As Grant explains: “This new graph maps the ideologies of 44 different religious groups using data comes from Pew’s Religious Landscape survey. This survey included 32,000 respondents. It asked very specific questions on religion that allow us to find out the precise denomination, church, or religion of each person.”
In other words, the dimensions of each color-coded circle reflect the relative size of the religious group it represents, and a circle’s position on the graph illustrates how the faithful feel about the government’s involvement in both the economy (bigger government with more services vs. smaller government with less services) and morality (greater protection of morality vs. less protection of morality). While the chart is revealing on its own, the policy questions in play — the economy and morality — are perhaps best analyzed alongside data detailing the average income of religious people from different faith groups. Pew Research has information on just that, which was used by GOOD magazine and Column Five in 2010 to create this beautiful infographic:
At first glance, one of the most notable correlations between the two charts is how closely racial and economic trends track with the demographics of religious groups — particularly on the question of government services. Since churches often serve as community hubs, pastors and congregants — and, by extension, full denominations — are usually sensitive to issues faced by people in their pews. Historically black Protestant denominations, for instance, are shown as having a high percentage of congregants (roughly 47 percent) who make less than $30,000 a year. This income bracket disproportionally benefits from crucial social programs such as the Affordable Care Act and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (a.k.a., food stamps), so it makes sense that denominations such as National and unaffiliated Baptists show up as overwhelmingly in favor of a government that offers more services. Similarly, White Mainline Protestants such as the United Methodist Church, the Episcopal church, and the Presbyterian Church (USA) have some of the wealthiest congregants in the country (36 percent of White Mainliners make over $75,000 a year) who don’t usually come in contact with many social services. As such, it’s not entirely surprising that they skew towards the “smaller government, less services” section of Grant’s scale. Meanwhile, Catholics, whose numbers include a relatively even distribution of income brackets that closely matches the national average, are situated roughly in the center of the chart.
But while income seems to indicate the probable political positions of some faith groups on the graph, Grant’s compilation also highlights several notable — and politically perplexing — exceptions. Sixty-five percent of Hindus make over $75,000 a year, for instance, but Grant’s chart depicts this wealthy group as firmly endorsing big government. Conversely, 58 percent of evangelicals — who, in Pew’s designation, are overwhelmingly white — make less than $50,000 a year, and many benefit directly from social services: white non-Hispanics make up 42 percent of our nation’s poor and receive 69 percent of government benefits, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Yet most of the evangelical denominations, marked in dark blue, are huddled near the upper right side of Grant’s graph, indicating a solid preference for a smaller government with less services.
There are also odd outliers, such as white Pentecostals — who, on average, arepoorer and less educated than the average American. They, like historically black churches, show up as decidedly left-of-center on the big government question, breaking the trend set by their fellow white conservative Christians.
Interestingly, the economic divide is also arguably even more consistent on the question of whether or not the federal government should do more to protect morality. One could contend, for example, that Grant’s graph adds weight to studies positing that wealthier people tend to gravitate towards looser moral standards. As mentioned, historically black churches and conservative evangelical denominations both have high percentages of churchgoers who earn less money than the national average, and both groups sit almost entirely on the half of the graph that calls for a greater protection of morality. But groups with high income rates — Buddhists, Unitarians, non-conservative Jews, the religiously unaffiliated (listed here as “nothing in particular”), and Mainline protestants — all lean towards a hypothetical administration that does less to reinforce moral codes. But this “the rich hate morals” argument gets muddled pretty quickly: Mainline protestant denominations are relatively wealthy, but they are also decidedly more liberal than evangelicals on social issues such as homosexuality. As such, it’s possible that these progressively-minded respondents conflate the idea of “protecting morality” with harmful policies that restrict the rights of LGBT people.
The notable outlier on the morality question is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS), or Mormons, who live pretty comfortably as a people yet fervently support a more morally-minded administration. There are a number of possible explanations for this, but one could be that the top-down style of the LDS church simply has an unusually deep impact the lives of Mormons. Three scholars actually explored this phenomenon in a new book about the church, highlighting how Mormons are now one of the most “politically cohesive” groups in the country. This “theological impact” argument could also explain another odd division within the Jewish community that shows up in Grant’s chart: Adherents to Judaism fair relatively well economically across the board, but Conservative and Orthodox Jews seem to prefer a government that does more to protect morality. More liberal Jews, on the other hand, deeply support leadership that does less to protect moral standards.
Grant’s graph also exposes some possible disconnects between the professed beliefs of religious institutions and the opinions of those in their pews. For example, according to the chart, virtually all Mainline protestant denominations are firmly situated in the “smaller government, less services” side of the ideological spectrum. Yet Mainline protestant denominational heads have repeatedly and passionately claimed to be members of the “Circle of Protection,” an ecumenical effort to safeguard social services that help poorer Americans. The same is true for Catholics: Catholic leaders have lobbied fiercely for both social programs (such as food stamps) and against policies they see as morally abhorrent (such as contraception), yet Pew’s data and Grant’s chart shows the average Catholic as roughly centrist on these questions.
So does where you go to church dictate your politics? Well, sort of. Regarding the two issues discussed above, the data hints that a voter’s religious affiliation is a strong indicator of their political beliefs, but it’s not totally clear whether religious teachings are the main force shaping those political beliefs. A longer analysis of history, theology, and actual voting patterns of parishioners would be required to get a more accurate picture of what’s going on here. However, it is clear that your wallet can say a lot about what kind of faith community you might attend. How you respond to the teachings of your church once you get there — and whether you’re self-selecting a religious community based off of your income bracket — is still mostly up to you.
Brown’s office said it supports the bill, and in a statement after it passed he said, “Tonight, the Legislature took historic action to help hardworking Californians.” Assuming he signs the bill, California will become just the second state ever to guarantee paid sick leave and the law will be the tenth in the nation.
The bill would require employers to provide sick leave to employees who work 30 or more days within a year, allowing them to accrue at least one hour for every 30 they put in. Currently, about 44 percent of the state’s workers don’t have access to a single paid day off if they or a family member gets sick.
It does, however, have a big carve out, as last minute negotiations between the bill’s author and Gov. Brown left out those who care for the elderly and disabled in their homes. That change led labor unions, which had made the bill a priority for the year, to pull their support, but it secured the governor’s backing.
California joins Connecticut, the first state to guarantee its residents have paid sick leave. If that state’s experience is a guide, the California Chamber of Commerce, which called the state’s bill a “job killer,” should have nothing to worry about. A year and a half after Connecticut’s law took effect, most employers said the costs had been negligible or non-existent, abuse hadn’t cropped up, and many actually saw benefits. More than three-quarters support the law, with nearly 40 percent saying they’re very supportive.
The same story has played out at the city level. Jersey City, NJ; Newark, NJ; New York City; Portland, OR; San Diego, CA; Seattle, WA; San Francisco, CA; and Washington, D.C. have all passed paid sick leave laws. San Francisco saw business growth increase and no harm to jobs, and a majority of employers support the law. Seattle’s didn’t hurt business or job growth, and job growth was actually stronger after the law took effect, while businesses support it. And Washington, D.C.’s law hasn’t pushed business owners to move or discouraged them from opening up shop in the city.
Despite these positive experiences, the cities and states with paid sick days requirements remain rare. The United States is the only country among 22 rich nations that doesn’t have such a national requirement. That leaves about 40 percent of the country’s workers, or more than 41 million people, without access to a single paid day off if they get sick or need to care for family members who are sick. And low-wage workers are even less likely to have access to leave. Bills have been introduced in Congress that would guarantee access for all, but none of them have passed.
And some places have moved in the opposite direction. Ten have passed preemption laws that ban cities and counties from passing paid sick leave laws, with most of them happening last year.
Ferguson Democratic Committeewoman Patricia Bynes has accused City of St. Louis Alderman Antonio French of exploiting protests for political gain.
In the midst of another weekend of demonstrations in Ferguson, Mo., a fracture has developed between St. Louis-area political officials who rallied there over the past three weeks.
In a series of tweets sent Friday evening, Ferguson Democratic committeewoman Patricia Bynes accused St. Louis city alderman Antonio French of using the protests to bolster his political profile. The Twitter tirade was apparently prompted by an earlier tweet sent by French, who lamented the “turf battle” that seemed to be forming among officials and activists.
French told BuzzFeed that Bynes and several other local political officials had shown up at the offices of his new Ferguson-based, non-profit organization, Heal STL, for a meeting on Thursday.
“They told me in no uncertain terms: Get out of Ferguson,” French said.
But French, who’s risen to national prominence for his role in documenting the protests, said he was committed to staying in Ferguson. He said he opened the offices of Heal STL earlier this week, filling it with tables and chairs and iPads for volunteers who come into town looking to help the city of 21,000.
“We want to harness all of the energy of people who want to help in some way,” French said. “I’m committed to what we started here. I’m willing to work with anybody. … I don’t know where this is coming from.”
Bynes told BuzzFeed a different story of the meeting on Thursday. In her version, she and other local leaders offered to work with French but were rebuffed. “There was a behind the scenes, private conversation,” she recalled, “and it became very clear that he was not going to work with the leadership that is here.”
She went on to cite a recent story by St. Louis Public Radio in which French said the black population in Ferguson doesn’t have representation. The remarks apparently stung local party leaders, such as Bynes, who increasing want French to retreat back to his own turf and hand over the reins. “Instead of being able to tackle this at a regional level,” Bynes said, “he slammed the representation that is here in Ferguson.”
“It seems very strange that he would open an office in Ferguson when he does not represent anyone in Ferguson,” Bynes said. “I’ve had my own constitutes calling me asking, ‘What is this Antonio French guy doing here?’” Over the past week, several other community activists had also grumbled — off-the-record — about French spending more time in Ferguson rather than his own district in St. Louis.
Bynes went on to say that leaders in Ferguson need to bring their message to the people, not the other way around: “We go into their homes — we don’t come to the office.”
“Antonio and I were on the front lines almost every single night,” Bynes said. “But we are beyond that point in time right now. We are at a point in time right now where we need a plan for Ferguson.”
French brushed off those criticisms.
“This fractured state in St. Louis, it didn’t just happen by accident,” he said. “It happened because of all these turf battles. It’s going to be a long hard battle to try to change that out here. If we only had to fight racism, our battle would be half as hard.”
By Saturday afternoon, both French and Bynes were among hundreds of people who had taken to the streets of Ferguson in protest of the shooting death of Michael Brown by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson.
They each posted pictures from the demonstrations.
A U.N. committee urged the U.S. Friday to stop police brutality, in light of the shooting of Michael Brown that set off the riots in Ferguson, Mo.
A U.N. committee urged the U.S. Friday to stop police brutality, in light of the shooting of Michael Brown that set off the riots in Ferguson, Mo.
In a news briefing Friday, the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (C.E.R.D.) vice chairman Noureddine Amir said the “excessive use of force by law enforcement officials against racial and ethnic minorities is an ongoing issue of concern.”
"Racial and ethnic discrimination remains a serious and persistent problem in all areas of life from de facto school segregation, access to health care and housing," Amir added. "This is not an isolated event and illustrates a bigger problem in the United States, such as racial bias among law enforcement officials, the lack of proper implementation of rules and regulations governing the use of force, and the inadequacy of training of law enforcement officials."
THIS IS NOT AN ISOLATED EVENT AND ILLUSTRATES A BIGGER PROBLEM IN THE UNITED STATES.
The U.N. panel also called for a review of the controversial “Stand Your Ground” laws and for further investigation into the shooting.
The panel isn’t the only international call for curbing police misconduct. The New York-based International Action Center held a protest outside NYPD headquarters supporting Michael Brown. The Human rights organization Amnesty International also sent observers to Ferguson. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon commented through spokesperson Stephane Dujarric that authorities should “ensure that the rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression are protected… He calls on all to exercise restraint, for law enforcement officials to abide by U.S. and international standards in dealing with demonstrators.”
Another young person has been thrown out of his home for coming out as gay. I have written about this on a number of occasions covering such events in the United States, Nigeria and Uganda. This time the event was recorded. Trying to imagine the evil some people can impart on their children is no longer necessary. Now we can hear them in their own self righteous voices…
Another young person has been thrown out of his home for coming out as gay.
This time the event was recorded. Trying to imagine the evil some people can impart on their children is no longer necessary. Now we can hear them in their own self righteous voices
It started when the family called 20-year-old Daniel Pierce to an “intervention.” He left his phone recorder going during the confrontation and was later posted online as “How not to react when your child tells you he is gay.” It has now gone viral.
In the video, Daniel explains to what sounds like his mother, step-mother and father that he is gay. The choices this set of parents makes as a reaction are almost as bad as they possibly could be.
His mother makes a statement at the outset that becomes increasingly shocking as the video proceeds and the parenting adults collectively verbally attack and physically abuse the young man.
The mother’s statement is: “I have known since you were a young boy that you were gay.” If there was ever clear pointed evidence that Daniel was “born that way,” her comment would be it.
She knows who her child is, yet due to her own personal agenda she pretends he is making a choice and coldly rejects him as a result.
This is my open letter to Daniel’s parents.
To Daniel’s family:
Now you know.
You have handled this badly. I don’t know you, and I don’t know of what you are capable, good or bad. I hope that there are better people within each one of you than those displayed on that video.
I am a parent as you are. For me, contributing to my sons’ welfare, personal joy and life success is my purpose and mission in this world. I hope that somehow in your own warped way, that you want that for Daniel. I have written to children killed by parents who feared they might grow up as gay, and I can’t be sure those aren’t individuals who share your mindset.
To Daniel’s dad: I hear great frustration of not being thanked for having provided the food and “roof over the head” of a child for twenty years. Accomplishing that is no small feat — I have two sons, 11 and 12, and I provide for them. I have to. I will not get thanked for it. It’s cool, it is the gig I signed up for. Part of being a parent is being your child’s oxygen. They need us to survive, but they do not thank us as they take each breath. We just have to provide for them, because being a parent means you do that.
We seek to inspire our children to be the best they can be, and to do that, we have to know who they are. You all now know Daniel.
Choice is relevant here, but not for Daniel. It is for you. You are choosing only to accept him if he is as you want him to be, rather than who he really is. Instead of embracing this child that you nurtured through life, you cling to a bastardized concept of “the word of God” that has turned a religious practice into an exercise of superstition.
Where exactly you get this religious mandate is itself a mystery. The Bible does not define itself as being “the word of God.” It defines Jesus, and Jesus alone as being “The Word.” Jesus never once claims that gay people choose to be gay. The Bible directs us to the covenant of God, under Jesus, as written on one’s own HEART and HIS MIND (Hebrews 8).
I believe that Daniel DID ask God, and God wrote back on Daniel’s heart and mind, “I made you gay.” God generally does not cc others so, you getting a copy of that directive is unlikely. That is what the Bible says and you can choose to believe it if you want.
To Daniel’s Mom: At the beginning of the recording you tell him you love him. He says he believes you. I don’t believe you.
For me, my sons come first — before my dogma, before my standing in the local community, before anything. If I was Abraham in the desert and Jason and Jesse were strapped to a stone slab, and a big voice in the sky was telling me to make a sacrifice of them to Him, I would turn to the heavens and say “Screw you.”
That’s how monumental my kids are to me — they are beyond biblical proportions of importance. All the real parents I know feel the same about their kids.
Daniel has very little choice here. He is who he is, and now thanks to your rejection, he will do what he has to in order to survive. Our community will come around him, love him support him. He will be our son now and we will give him healthy alternatives. Many in his situation do not get that chance. They end up on the street and within weeks are surviving through less than savory means.
We will watch Daniel, and encourage him to grow. We will give him hope for his life, and a vision for an inspiring purpose. That purpose for him may or may not include a family of his own. We will show him how to find joy and fulfillment, and he will do it without you. Unlike you, we will let him know he can be his authentic true self.
Your choices are important ones that will affect the rest of your lives. Rejecting is a choice. Not caring for Daniel is a choice. Saving your face in the community over the well being of your son is a choice. What is your best possible choice? That would be a sincere re-evaluation of your priorities, bringing him home, and working towards a level of acceptance.
Whatever you choose, it will define you forever. You will either be defined as the people who worked to grow as parents, or the people who should never have been parents in the first place.
If you do have any love in you at all, it will fester and one day you will find yourself sitting upright in bed, having a better educated sense about the nature of the true God, and realize that you have made a horrific and terrible mistake. One that, at that point, you may not be able to fix.
You may truly be cold loveless shells. Certainly, it appears that one or more of you deserves to be in jail right now for assault. Instead of looking for healing, you may launch into a further tirade of homophobia and tell us about the vengeful God that you emulate.
You will not need to preach to us about hell, however. We will see it in your eyes.
In response to a number of inquiries today, the Riverfront Times confirms that it is seeking the juvenile records of Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, the man who shot and killed Michael Brown.
After the Post-Dispatch announced Friday that it is seeking the juvenile records for Brown, many people on Twitter asked that the same scrutiny be placed upon Wilson, who is currently under investigation for the shooting death of the unarmed 18-year-old man.
This is just one avenue of many in our continuing commitment to cover a significant news story for our community.
We have taken this action as a professional news organization, independently and not in conjunction with any other organization, as we seek to report facts and not rely on innuendo or speculation.
Continue on for the Post-Dispatch’s announcement that it’s seeking the Brown’s juvenile records.
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A federal judge Friday threw out new Texas abortion restrictions that would have effectively closed more than a dozen clinics statewide in a victory for opponents of tough new anti-abortion laws sweeping across the U.S.
U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel sided with clinics that sued over one of the most disputed measures of a sweeping anti-abortion bill signed by Republican Gov. Rick Perry in 2013. The ruling stops new clinic requirements that would have left seven abortion facilities in Texas come Monday, when the law was set to take effect.
Texas currently has 19 abortion providers — already down from more than 40 just two years ago, according to groups that sued the state for the second time over the law known as HB2.
"The overall effect of the provisions is to create an impermissible obstacle as applied to all women seeking a previability abortion," Yeakel wrote in his 21-page ruling.
The ruling blocks a portion of the that law would have required abortion facilities in Texas to meet hospital-level operating standards, which supporters say will protect women’s health. But Yeakel concluded the intent was only to “close existing licensed abortion clinics.”
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, a Republican who is the favorite to become governor next year, vowed to seek an immediate appeal to try to preserve the new clinic rules.
Clinics called the measures a backdoor effort to outlaw abortions, which has been a constitutional right since the Roe v. Wade ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973.
Under the new restrictions, the only remaining abortion facilities in Texas would have been in major cities, and there would have been none in the entire western half of the nation’s second-largest state. For women in El Paso, the closest abortion provider would be in New Mexico — an option the state wanted Yeakel to take into consideration, even though New Mexico’s rules for abortion clinics are far less rigorous.
"It’s an undue burden for women in Texas — and thankfully today the court agreed," said Amy Hagstrom Miller, CEO of Whole Woman’s Health, which would have been among the clinic operators affected. "The evidence has been stacking up against the state and against the politicians who so cynically passed these laws in the name of safety."
Miller said that she will now seek to re-open a clinic in the Rio Grande Valley — where there hasn’t been an abortion provider for months — as soon as this weekend.
The new Texas restrictions would have required clinics to have operating rooms, air filtration systems and other standards that are typically only mandated in surgical settings.
Some clinics in Texas already stopped offering abortions after another part of the 2013 bill required doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. That part of the law has been upheld by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court in New Orleans, where the state will now seek a second reversal.
"The State disagrees with the court’s ruling and will seek immediate relief from the Fifth Circuit, which has already upheld HB2 once," Abbott spokeswoman Lauren Bean said.
Similar rules on admitting privileges have been blocked by federal courts in Mississippi, Kansas and Wisconsin.
Attorneys for the state denied that women would be burdened by fewer abortion facilities, saying nearly 9 in 10 women in Texas would still live within 150 miles of a provider. Critics say that still leaves nearly a million Texas women embarking on drives longer than three hours to get an abortion.
Opposition to the Texas law was so visible that Democrat Wendy Davis launched her campaign for governor behind the celebrity she achieved through a nearly 13-hour filibuster last summer that temporarily blocked the bill in the state Senate.
A Mississippi judge on Friday dismissed Tea Party-backed Senate candidate Chris McDaniel’s lawsuit, in which McDaniel has been attempting to overturn his narrow defeat in the Republican primary against incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran — on the grounds that McDaniel missed the deadline to even file his challenge. Judge Hollis McGehee agreed with the Cochran campaign’s contention that under a 1959 state Supreme Court ruling, there is a 20-day deadline to file an election challenge. By contrast, McDaniel filed his challenge 41 days after after the June 24 Republican primary runoff, which Cochran won by about 7,000 votes. McDaniel’s lawyer told the Jackson Clarion-Ledger that McDaniel wants to decide over the weekend whether he will appeal McGehee’s ruling up to the state Supreme Court; McDaniel will announce his decision on Tuesday. McDaniel previously requested that the state Republican Party executive committee simply declare him the winner by about 25,000 votes, which the state GOP chairman declined to grant. McDaniel has been defiantly seeking to overturn the primary result, ever since the election night. Among other things, he has charged that Cochran’s campaign strategy — which involved reaching out to the (usually Democratic) African-American community to cross over into the Republican primary — had fraudulently overturned the will of genuine Republican voters.
The governor’s top staff intervened in an ethics investigation of his campaign, allegedly even threatening the top ethics official. The silver fox has seen a lot in his day, but we think he would agree this is just wrong.
5. Now the governor is struggling to explain why he takes $10k a month from a business that owes Georgia $74 million in back taxes.
In her radio address yesterday, Phyllis Schlafly took on the issue of domestic violence and sexual assault, which she said could be eliminated if women would just get married instead of focusing so much on their careers.
Noting that “marriage settles men down,” Schlafly asked, “So what’s the answer for women who worry about male violence? It’s not to fear all men. It’s to reject the lifestyle of frequent ‘hookups,’ which is so much promoted on college campuses today, while the women pursue a career and avoid marriage.”
We all know that married men can still be violent to their families, but they are far less likely to be violent against women than are live-in boyfriends.
Why is this? It’s true that women who have found men who are already better partners are more likely to marry them, but it’s also true that marriage settles men down. Being married makes a man care more about his family’s expectations and future because he sees his family as enduring. It also makes him more faithful and committed to his partner. Marriage makes men directly protective of their wives, and living in a home with their daughters gives them the opportunity to be directly protective of them as well. Marriage also creates indirect protection for wives and daughters, because married women and their children tend to live in safer neighborhoods.
So what’s the answer for women who worry about male violence? It’s not to fear all men. It’s to reject the lifestyle of frequent “hookups,” which is so much promoted on college campuses today, while the women pursue a career and avoid marriage.
As Lawrence O’Donnell noted in his Rewrite segment Thursday night, so much for the warped definition of “class warfare” and the working class being envious of the rich that Republicans like Mitt Romney and his ilk are constantly carrying on about. These employees proved that if you actually pay them well, respect them and act like you care about them, they’ll stand up for you.
As celebration gave way to reflection the day after protesting Market Basket employees won the return of their leader, Arthur T. Demoulas, it remained unclear if the miracle of Tewksbury was truly a breakthrough moment for middle-class workers or a one-time phenomenon.
Ultimately what looked like a kamikaze mission ended in success, and as Demoulas offered thanks and congratulations Thursday morning outside company headquarters, one elated employee after another said they would do it again.
“The United States would be incredibly impacted by the Rapture because there are more professing Christians here than perhaps any other place on the planet,” Hindson predicted.
“What would happen, I think, in the United States is the sudden Rapture of believers would leave this country totally secularist, totally atheist, totally in the hands of anti-Christian forces, and it would decimate the economy, the banking system, even the military, the police system. It would throw this country into chaos overnight. Now, it would throw any country into chaos, but the larger percentage of born-again believers, the larger percentage of the chaos.”
But why, Hindson asked, is the United States not mentioned in the Book of Revelation? Because, he explains, so many Americans will be raptured that the country will be totally decimated and all of the action will shift to Europe, where the Antichrist will arise.
“Unless you try to view the Babylon of the End Times as America, there’s no indication that America’s there anywhere [in the Bible],” Hindson said. “So, is she totally destroyed? Possibly, but not likely. It’s more likely that she’s decimated by the impact of the Rapture. and the power then shifts to Europe, because I think the Bible makes it clear the Antichrist will rise out of the old Roman Empire in Europe.”
Last week, the city council in Fayetteville, Arkansas passed a nondiscrimination ordinance that included protections for, among other things, sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.
Needless to say, Matt Barber and Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel are furious about its passage and spent an entire radio program declaring that Fayetteville has now literally made it legal for any man to enter a women’s restroom or locker room at will while anyone who objects or tries to prevent a man from entering will be fined and criminally charged.
Staver announced that Liberty Counsel was working with local pastors to secure enough signatures to put the ordinance on the ballot in November in order to have it repealed, which Barber said was an absolute necessity because this ordinance is forcing city residents to engage in a “mass delusion under penalty of law.”
"This is the sexual anarchist movement’s attack on reality," Barber said, "but, larger than that, attack on God’s design for human sexuality, for male, for female, trying to make everything gender neutral and create an androgynous society, running against reality that everybody knows to be true."
"I know people who can put a bomb on you,” Tsarnaeva allegedly said.
Aliana Tsarnaeva, sister of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, listens during a hearing in South Boston District Court Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013, in Boston. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. )
Ailina Tsarnaeva, the sister of accused Boston Marathon bombers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, surrendered to police on Wednesday.
According to The New York Post,the 23-year-old Tsarnaeva turned herself in at a Manhattan police precinct for allegedly threatening her boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend.
"I know people who can put a bomb on you,” Tsarnaeva allegedly said.
She was charged with making a phone threat and aggravated harassment, according to the paper. Tsarnaeva’s boyfriend, George Briones, is currently in the midst of a legal battle with his ex-girlfriend for custody of their children. The woman, who has not been named, reportedly alerted authorities after Tsarnaeva called her home in Harlem, New York on Wednesday.
Tsarnaeva lives with her sister, Bella Tsarnaeva in North Bergen, New Jersey, just outside of Manhattan, the Associated Press reported.
Her parents, who are originally from Chechnya, now live in Dagestan. Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, the children’s mother, has maintained her sons’ innocence. Tamerlan, 26, was killed in a shootout with police just days after the bombing and Dzhokhar, 21, is currently awaiting trial in prison in Devens, Massachusetts.
BarbWire’s Gina Miller used her column today to respond to a piece on the Huffington Post asserting that what is needed is not a new nail polish for women that can detect the presence of date rape drugs in their drinks but rather a concerted effort toward “solutions to shifting rape culture where consent, on both sides, is seen as the norm.”
Miller was decidely unimpressed by the supposed need to “stop blaming the victim [and] educate men on how not to rape” because the only real solution is to get our society to turn to Jesus … plus, all those drunken sluts who are dressing like prostitutes are partially responsible for getting raped because they are sending mixed messages:
Why do you suppose that there might be a “blame the victim” mentality today? Do women ever bear any responsibility for putting themselves in potentially dangerous places and situations, like drunken frat parties? Do they bear no responsibility for the outrageous “fashions” they choose to wear nowadays, clothing that makes them look like prostitutes and porn “stars,” clothing that arguably feeds the “rape culture”? Yes, we know that a man who sexually assaults a woman is always wrong, but why is it considered just fine for a woman to present herself in a hyper-sexual, sleazy way and then expect men to treat her with the dignity and honor she imagines she deserves? The disconnect from reason is palpable.
To many on the Left, the answer to most problems is “education,” but what young man doesn’t already know that it’s wrong to sexually assault another person? Who is unclear that “no” means “no”? There again, can it be argued that a woman dressed like a strumpet, yet saying “no” to unwanted sexual advances, sends a mixed message? Yes, I know it’s outrageous, but this is what our Godless culture has wrought. There are a lot of bad people out there, and no amount of “education,” telling them it’s wrong (they already know this), will change their evil hearts.
[T]here will be no shifting of any rape culture by throwing money at more “rape culture awareness,” or telling young men that it’s wrong to rape, or holding colleges accountable, or not “blaming the victim.” Our nation has turned its back on God. We have kicked Him out of our schools and out of the public square. We have raised several generations of Godless, self-centered, sex-obsessed kids, and the truth is that there can be no positive transformation of any sick culture without the saving power of the Spirit of God through Jesus Christ to change people’s hearts of stone into new hearts of flesh.
The son of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy pulled his five children out of Clark County, Nev. schools on Thursday after getting into a disagreement with administrators over the ability to carry pocketknives at school.
The five students are the grandchildren of Cliven Bundy, a rancher who has previously engaged in armed clashes with the U.S. government over the use of federal land. The incident that sparked the removal involved Bundy’s 15-year-old granddaughter whose school refused to allow her to bring a pocketknife to school, according to television station KSNV.
Her father, Ryan Bundy, disagreed with the school’s labeling of the knife as a weapon and, per KSNV, said he has inculcated in his children the need to always carry a knife. His children affirmed his stance, saying that they utilize knives for chores but don’t wield them as weapons.
"They’re trying to make my child a criminal – and any other child a criminal – for simply having something, and that is not right," Bundy said.
Bundy said he hopes the administration will allow the pocketknives on campus so that the issue can be resolved, a sentiment his daughter echoes.
"I hope that somehow (sic) figures this out because I still would like to go to this school," she said. "I really don’t want to be homeschooled."
Daniel’s boyfriend set up a GoFundMe page to help Daniel with living expenses. The New Civil Rights Movement has been told by a person in touch with Daniel that he is safe, living with a trusted relative, and he’s “overwhelmed” by all that’s happened.
The video begins with a woman, possibly Daniel’s mother, saying, “Daniel, I want to tell you before I say anything else, that I love you.”
"You can deny it all you want to," the woman continues, "but I believe in the word of God, and God creates nobody that way," Daniel’s mother tells him. "It’s a path that you have chosen to choose."
Daniel, who is 20, talks about his biology and psychology classes. He tells his family he believes that “scientific proof trumps the word of God.”
"You go by all the scientific stuff you want to," she responds. "I’m going by the word of God."
The woman then says, “we will not support you any longer.”
"You will need to move out, and find wherever you can to live," she adds. "Because I will not let people believe that I condone what you do."
As the exchange heats up, there sounds like a slap, the camera is jarred, and Daniel says, “You’re not going to fucking hit me.”
Someone else says, “Son of a bitch,” and it sounds like a physical altercation is underway.
Daniel is called “a damn queer,” ”a disgrace,” and “a little piece of shit.”
Someone, likely a woman, says, “I’ll beat you…”
In the end, the family disowns Daniel, some members appear to get physically, emotionally, and verbally abusive, and they hide behind their Bible.
In an email, Daniel told the Huffington Post today why he started to record the video. ”I wanted to make sure there was evidence in case something happened.”
The Huffington Post adds that Daniel “came out as gay last October. At the time, his father was unresponsive and his stepmother seemed supportive. However, things took a turn for the worse Wednesday when Pierce found himself a part of what he describes as a ‘delayed intervention’ involving his father, stepmother and grandparents. He apparently captured footage of the interaction on camera.”
"Their reaction was pretty much expected [once] I chose to leave instead of pray because they have always been very vocal about not supporting the gay lifestyle," he told HuffPost. "My [stepmother’s] reaction was the most surprising and hurtful."
The family members involved in the intervention, which he says was “driven by my grandparents,” have not contacted the media, but they left Pierce a voicemail telling him to remove the video of the incident from YouTube. Pierce also says he did not contact police over the apparent altercation in the video.
And here’s the GoFundMe page Daniel’s boyfriend set up for him. Daniel now has control of the page we’re told, and we have been told he will be the one who gets all the proceeds from the page, which currently stand at over $23,000.
Fox News contributor Erick Erickson responded to President Obama’s press conference addressing the Islamic State by asserting that he understands why “so many” believe Obama “is a closet Muslim jihadist sympathizer.”
On August 28, Obama held a press conference to deliver remarks the Islamic State and recent developments in Ukraine. During his statement, Obama explained that U.S. airstrikes have allowed Kurdish forces to push back the extremists, but added that more needed to be done with allies to root out the “cancer” that is the Islamic State:
As I’ve said, rooting out a cancer like ISIL will not be quick or easy, but I’m confident that we can and we will, working closely with our allies and our partners. For our part, I’ve directed Secretary Hagel and our Joint Chiefs of Staff to prepare a range of options. I’ll be meeting with my National Security Council again this evening as we continue to develop that strategy. And I’ve been consulting with members of Congress, and I’ll continue to do so in the days ahead.
Despite Obama’s strong condemnation of the Islamic State, Erickson said on his radio show that “I don’t believe Barack Obama is a closet Muslim jihadi sympathizer. But I now - today, after this press conference — totally understand why so many of you think he is.” Erickson repeated the incendiary comment on Twitter:
Erickson’s inflammatory remark is the latest in a long line of extreme rhetoric from the Fox contributor. In 2012, Erickson called Obama a “composite Kenyan” on his blog RedState. He also has a history of sexist and homophobic comments: Erickson labeled Texas state lawmaker and gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis ”Abortion Barbie” and claimed that gay people need to “overcome” the “struggle” of homosexuality.
From the 08.28.2014 edition of WSB’s The Erick Erickson Show:
Sometimes coming-out stories are heartwarming tales of acceptance and love. Other times they are tragic accounts of abandonment and abuse.
Daniel Ashley Pierce, a 20-year-old from Georgia, came out as gay last October. At the time, his father was unresponsive and his stepmother seemed supportive. However, things took a turn for the worse Wednesday when Pierce found himself a part of what he describes as a “delayed intervention” involving his father, stepmother and grandparents. He apparently captured footage of the interaction on camera.
"I wanted to make sure there was evidence in case something happened," Pierce told The Huffington Post in an email Thursday.
WARNING: Video at bottom of post may be disturbing.
Pierce’s video began going viral after it was posted by Dan Savage with Seattle’s The Stranger. In the five-minute clip, which does not focus on any individual’s face, the people in the room with Pierce can be heard telling him his sexuality is a choice. When he disputes that, they use religion as an argument.
"No, you can believe that if you want to," a woman, presumably his grandmother, can be heard saying, "but I believe in the word of God, and God creates nobody that way. It’s a path that you have chosen to choose. … You go by all the scientific stuff you want to. I’m going by the word of God." She goes on to say that since Pierce has "chosen that path" they will no longer support him and he needs to move out because she "will not let people believe that I condone what you do."
Pierce asks his stepmother if he can stay in the house, but she refuses.
"You’re full of s**t," she says. "You told me on the phone that you made that choice. You know you wasn’t born that way. You know damn good and well you made that choice. You know that [your father] has done everything he can to raise you. … He didn’t need to blame himself."
At this point, an apparent physical altercation occurs. The camera starts moving, and Pierce can be heard yelling to the woman to stop hitting him. A man yells, “You’re a damn queer.” At the end of the video, someone calls him “a disgrace.”
What a day…. i thought that waking up at 9:48 and being 15 mins late to work was going to be the biggest problem today. but i didn’t know that my biggest problem was going to be getting disowned and kicked out of my home of almost twenty years. to add insult to injury my step mother punched me in the face repeatedly with my grandmother cheering her along. i am still in complete shock and disbelief [all sic].
"Their reaction was pretty much expected [once] I chose to leave instead of pray because they have always been very vocal about not supporting the gay lifestyle," he told HuffPost. "My [stepmother’s] reaction was the most surprising and hurtful."
The family members involved in the intervention, which he says was “driven by my grandparents,” have not contacted the media, but they left Pierce a voicemail telling him to remove the video of the incident from YouTube. Pierce also says he did not contact police over the apparent altercation in the video.
The footage, originally posted by Pierce’s friend, had more than 700,000 views, as of Thursday afternoon. Pierce’s story has been covered by the Advocate, the Daily Dot and the New Civil Rights Movement. A GoFundMe campaign was set up to help raise money to cover Pierce’s living expenses; by Thursday, it had collected more than $19,000.
WARNING: This video contains graphic language and may be disturbing.
Daniel Pierce is a hero for standing up to homophobic bigots who wanted to demean his sexual orientation.
NBC News: President Obama said Thursday that the U.S. doesn’t “have a strategy yet” on how to deal with the growing threat from the Islamic State in the Middle East.
Obama also announced that the Secretary of State John Kerry will soon travel to the Middle East to help build a coalition to respond to the militants. In the meantime, Obama indicated that US airstrikes in Syria were not imminent.
Democrat Michelle Nunn’s campaign for U.S. Senate is taking a page from the playbook Democrats used to hit Mitt Romney over his time as the head against Bain Capital.
A new television ad by the Nunn campaign targeting businessman David Perdue, the Republican nominee Nunn is facing in the Georgia Senate race, hits the former CEO for his time as the head of Pillowtex in North Carolina. The company went bankrupt soon after. The ad features people in neighboring Salisbury, N.C., many of them elderly, describing how the bankruptcy devastated many of the employees while Perdue “walked away with his $1.7 million.”
"Just months after David Perdue abandoned Pillowtex, the company went bankrupt," the ad said.
"All we were was people to make money off our backs," one of the people in the video, Cynthia Hanes, who the ad said worked at Pillowtex for 31 years, said near the end.
The one-minute ad is actually similar to the anti-Romney ads the pro-Obama Democratic super PAC Priorities USA made in 2012 that hit the former Massachusetts governor for his time at Bain Capital, painting him as a cold businessman who was willing to cut jobs as long as he made a profit. National Journal points out that Nunn has actually got Schor Johnson Magnus, the same strategists who made the Romney ads for Priorities USA, working for her campaign.
Updated 8/28/14 12:50 p.m.: A statement from the makers of the app which recorded the original video say they have authenticated the tape. Click through for the full release.
A newly discovered snippet of video from an unnamed Canfield Green resident allegedly contains audio of the gunfire that killed eighteen-year-old Michael Brown. Much has been made already about the number of shots heard — about ten or eleven — and the pause between the volleys, though the tape has not yet been declared authentic by the FBI or the St. Louis County Police Department.
However, Adolphus Pruitt, president of the local St. Louis NAACP chapter, says he believes the audio is the real deal. He says his office has acted as a liaison between the witnesses who are afraid to come forward for fear of retribution and the FBI agents investigating the case. That’s how he met the man who made the tape as well as his lawyer, Lopa Blumenthal.
"I met at the attorney’s office, and they played it and gave us a copy of our records," Pruitt says. "I’m convinced."
The video was purportedly shot around noon on August 9, when Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Brown. CNN obtained the tape first and aired it yesterday — listen here:
Pruitt says the recording was made with the video-texting app Glide. One of the reasons he says he believes the recording to be authentic is that the app automatically time stamps each entry, and the date, time and location of the man’s apartment where the video was made seem to add up.
Updated: The makers of Glide have autheticated the tape. Here’s the statement we received from spokesman Chaim Haas (emphasis ours):
While tragedy is never good news, and our hearts go out to the family of Michael Brown, this incident underscores how technology is changing the landscape of not only journalism, but also criminology.
A Glide user living nearby (whose identity is being protected) was simply using the Glide app on their smartphone exactly as it was designed - to instantly communicate with a friend through our real-time video texting service. Simultaneously, they also captured audio in the background of the gunshots allegedly fired at Michael Brown.
Because Glide is the only messaging application using streaming video technology, each message is simultaneously recorded and transmitted, so the exact time can be verified to the second. In this case, the video in question was created at 12:02:14 PM CDT on Saturday, August 9th.
We commend this Glide user for turning their Glide video message over to FBI investigators as possible evidence in this ongoing investigation.
Original post follows:
"Our concern is: What was the pause? What occurred during the pause, what was going through the officer’s mind in the pause," says Pruitt. "One, was there an ability for assessment and contemplation, and two, the fact that [Brown] was only hit six times and there was ten shots within this volley. What was going on? Where did those other shots go?"
For Brown’s family, the pause is also significant. According to Brown’s cousin Eric Davis, news of the tape’s existence also shattered any hope of finding relative peace the day after the teenager’s burial.
"He paused for about three to four seconds. I’m assuming that’s when Michael went down on his hands," says Davis. "It’s quite disturbing."
The FBI would not comment on any aspect of the investigation, and while county police spokesman Brian Schellman acknowledges that his office was aware of the tape, he would not comment on its authenticity.
Daily RFT also reached out to the makers of the Glide app. Spokesman Chaim Haas would not comment on the authenticity of the video, but wanted to clarify what the app itself is. Though the man in the tape clearly seems to be talking to a love interest, Glide is not a dating app, rather it’s like a “video walkie-talkie.” Users have to be friends to send video messages back and forth, which are transmitted instantly and watched in almost real time. All messages are stored in the cloud until a user deletes them. Though the company is based in Jerusalem, it has nearly 10 million stateside users, many of whom are young and “urban,” Haas says.
Pruitt says the man who made the video wants to remain anonymous for many reasons, from the desire to avoid media scrutiny to a fear of retribution.
"I’m confident there have been death threats against both sides of this issue," he says. "What witness wants to be the subject of death threats?"
Here’s CNN’s full, original report, and we’ll update as we learn more.
The protests in Ferguson, Missouri, this month presented a dilemma for the anti-government Right. The activists and elected officials who spent the spring fawning over lawless Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy’s stand against what they saw as an overbearing federal government changed their tune or just went silent when a police force armed with military weapons cracked down on mostly peaceful protesters in Ferguson.
On Tuesday, Gawker’s Adam Weinstein examined the “inherent contradiction” in the membership of St. Louis police officer Dan Page — who was suspended after he shoved a CNN reporter and the video of a violent rant he made came to light — in Oath Keepers, a group whose entire founding purpose is a fear of violent government overreach against unarmed citizens.
We will NOT obey any order to blockade American cities, thus turning them into giant concentration camps.
We will NOT obey any orders to confiscate the property of the American people, including food and other essential supplies.
We will NOT obey any orders which infringe on the right of the people to free speech, to peaceably assemble, and to petition their government for a redress of grievances.
As Weinstein notes, the Missouri chapter of the Oath Keepers has sent a “letter of warning” to Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon in opposition to police tactics against the protesters. But the Oath Keepers’ opposition seems to be based less on principle than on strategy — in a separate blog post, the national group objects to the police failure to stop looting while it took aim at peaceful protesters. The blog post also notes that Oath Keepers on the scene in Ferguson were “talking consensus for the benefit of the police and the people equally.” This role of self-appointed mediator is in sharp contrast to the group’s show of force at the Bundy ranch.
Ferguson has exposed some common ground between the anti-government Right and mainstream civil liberties groups — for instance, both the extreme right-wing Gun Owners of America and the American Civil Liberties Union have signed on to a plan to end the program that sends discount military equipment to local police departments.
Sheriff Richard Mack, the founder of a group that believes that county sheriffs are the highest law enforcement officers in the land, has also been strangely silent on Ferguson, despite having spent time rallying against the federal government at the Bundy ranch with armed militia groups that he compared to Rosa Parks.
Yes, the relative silence of the anti-government Right on Ferguson is inconsistent, but so is their view of the Ferguson protests: In the view of many right-wing activists, the protesters in Ferguson weren’t standing up to the government, they were themselves tools of the government.
There is aschoolofthought among right-wing commentators that the protests in Ferguson were orchestrated — or at the very least encouraged — by Attorney General Eric Holder and the Obama administration in order to stir up racial resentments and increase Democratic chances in the 2014 midterm elections.
The Ferguson protests exposed a key fault line in the anti-government “Patriot” movement: they are against government overreach, but their definition of what counts as government never seems to be quite clear.
The co-founder of the world’s largest Christian evangelical television ministry has been linked in FBI files to the Mafia, gun running, narcotics, money laundering, anti-Semitism, white supremacism, and other activities around the world.
The FBI was investigating Paul Crouch, the co-founder of Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN). Crouch, who died last year at the age of 79, was one of the world’s first “televangelists.” Crouch and his wife, Jan Crouch, first began their “ministry” by renting time on a local Canadian TV station, and grew their “ministry” into TBN, a multi-million dollar international TV network which the co-founded with the now infamous grifter, Jim Bakker, and his wife, Tammy Faye Bakker.
The New York Times in 2012 reported on the TBN founders who were at the forefront of the so-called “prosperity gospel,” noting that in 2010 alone they took in $93 million in donations through their “ministry.”
Among the more interesting revelations is the claim that the FBI’s “reports accuse Crouch and his partners as being motivated by ‘anti-semitic and white supremacist,’ beliefs.”
In 1997 the FBI labeled Crouch “an anti-semitic, white supremacist” — but once they identified him as a religious figure they “conducted no further investigation.”
The FBI file also states that “Paul Crouch, along with Reverend Earl Paulk, [redacted] and Oral Roberts were anti-Semitic and white supremacists. Crouch and the others were supposedly receiving funds from the PLO to ‘run guns.’”
MuckRock reports that “the FBI and IRS were working closely with the Italian GDF, essentially their Internal Revenue Service, to fully investigate Crouch’s foreign and domestic holdings.”
Apparently as soon as word got out that Crouch and TBN were in the money laundering biz, the Italian mob decided they wanted in. The file mentions phone contact between TBN and the Sons of Italy Lodge in the Bronx, NY. You might be thinking that this is pretty shaky evidence to suggest Crouch was in contact with the mob, but considering the fact that the phone record was included in a subsection of the infamous Bronx mobster Vincent “Chin” Gigante’s FBI file, it’s pretty clear that the FBI was drawing some kind of connection. This probably didn’t make the GDF too happy either.
There is a possible link reported to a federal drug and money laundering investigation as well.
"Other sketchy phone calls that went in and out of TBN over the years were from a Hungarian computer programmer whom TBN sponsored for U.S. citizenship, and phone calls from a number in Omaha to the TBN line which were documented in a separate FBI narcotics transfer investigation," MuckRock charges. "Maybe someday all those little white redactions will be peeled away and we’ll know exactly what Crouch was up to."
The complete, albeit redacted, FBI file can be read at MuckRock.
In 2010, The New Civil Rights Movement reported on allegations that Paul Crouch allegedly forced a male employee, Enoch Lonnie Ford, into homosexual acts.
440K views in one day of this YouTube clip in which a kid comes out to his family, only to have them curse him because Jesus, then physically attack him. Dan Savage writes:
"That was hard to listen to. Jesus. Fucking. Christ. My heart breaks for that poor, brave, tough kid. What the fuck is wrong with these people? We could have a fundraiser up and running for this poor kid by morning—if we knew who he was and where he was."
The Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) are demanding action from Fox News after a host linked all Muslims to terrorists and advocated for violence against practitioners of the faith.
In an August 27 statement, the Asian American Journalist Association condemned Fox co-host Andrea Tantaros for making blanket statements conflating all Muslims to the Islamic State and advocating for violence against them. AAJA called on the network to apologize:
AAJA calls for Tantaros and Fox News to apologize for the irresponsible, inflammatory statements. We also call on Fox News to discourage its journalists from making blanket comments that serve to perpetuate hate and Islamophobia.
Muslims and Islam are not interchangeable terms with terrorists or ISIS. We in the media know better and must be vigilant in our choice of words.
The AAJA joined the Muslim Public Affairs Council in their outrage over the offensive Fox segment. MPAC previously called for the network to fire Tantaros following her inflammatory statements.
The growing call for action from Fox News comes after an August 20 segment of Outnumbered featured co-host Andrea Tantaros discussing the death of journalist James Foley at the hands of the Islamic State. Suggesting that the history of Islam set a precedent for the murder, Tantaros declared that “this isn’t a surprise,” and that the only way to solve the situation was “with a bullet to the head. It’s the only thing these people understand”:
End Times broadcaster Rick Wiles said during Tuesday’s broadcast that “Trunews” will go off the air in order to let Wiles launch a new radio show, which sounds a lot like “Trunews.”
Wiles said “the American public has checked out of reality” and failed to stop President Obama — “the communist traitor in the White House who is openly helping jihadist”— in his quest to establish a “dictatorship” and “defile the military with sodomy.”
“He has ended the Constitution and yet nobody is doing anything,” Wiles said. “The people have checked out, they are gone and we are now in a dictatorship.”
As a result of these developments, Wiles said God wants him to end “Trunews” and launch a “new radio program” to provide listeners “the spiritual food that you need to get through the storm that is coming” because “you don’t need any more news or information.”
A growing number of Republicans are floating another government shutdown.
Rep. Steve King (R-IA) floated the possibility of shutting down the government on Wednesday if President Obama issues an executive action granting deportation relief to more undocumented immigrants. King’s comments come just one day after Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) suggested that Republicans in the Senate use “funding mechanisms to address this issue.”
“If the president wields his pen and commits that unconstitutional act to legalize millions, I think that becomes something that is nearly political nuclear,” King said in remarks before the Westside Conservative Breakfast Club in Urbandale, Iowa, adding that “all bets are off” on passing a measure to keep the government running past October.
“I think the public would be mobilized and galvanized and that changes the dynamic of any continuing resolution and how we might deal with that,” he added.
Congress will have just 10 working days to pass a continuing resolution after it returns from summer vacation on September 8. Several Republicans have already threatened to hold up the measure over renewal of the Export-Import Bank and the administration’s proposed environmental regulations, though no party leaders have yet endorsed using must-pass legislation to prevent the administration’s forthcoming immigration action.
Speaking to Breitbart, Rubio said he would be “interested to see what kinds of ideas my colleagues have about using funding mechanisms to address this issue.”
Earlier this month, Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told a Politico reporter that Republicans would strong arm President Obama into adopting a host of Republican policy priorities, from repealing the Affordable Care Act to undoing environmental regulations, but did not specifically mention immigration.
In the House, Republicans approved a bill that would end the Obama administration’s Deferred Actions for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), which has allowed young immigrants to obtain work permits and remain in the country. The measure would also prohibit the president from extending the program to other undocumented people. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) did not say if he plans to attach the measure to the continuing resolution.
For the past few weeks, the spot where Michael Brown was shot and killed by Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson has had a steady stream of visitors and mourners, many of whom leave mementos such as flowers, stuffed animals and signs. Just blocks from West Florissant Avenue, which became known for large protests and clashes with police, this memorial site has been an area of calm and remembrance.
But even this area, after the shooting, was fraught with the tensions that have come to the forefront between the overwhelmingly white police force in the area and the city’s African-American majority.
Soon, police vehicles reappeared, including from the St. Louis County Police Department, which had taken control of the investigation. Several officers emerged with dogs. What happened next, according to several sources, was emblematic of what has inflamed the city of Ferguson, Missouri, ever since the unarmed 18-year-old was gunned down: An officer on the street let the dog he was controlling urinate on the memorial site.
The incident was related to me separately by three state and local officials who worked with the community in the immediate aftermath of the shooting. One confirmed that he interviewed an eyewitness, a young woman, and pressed her on what exactly she saw. “She said that the officer just let the dog pee on it,” that official told me. “She was very distraught about it.” The identity of the officer who handled the dog and the agency he was with remain unclear.
Missouri state Rep. Sharon Pace (D) also told Mother Jones that police initially blocked all traffic from entering the street where Brown was shot, but their vehicles were still allowed. According to Pace, police drove over the rose petals that had been scattered at the site, leading some residents to try to block the police vehicles from driving in.
The nightly protests along West Florissant Avenue are no longer attracting the crowds they did initially, and many community members are now trying to translate the awareness and attention in Ferguson to larger reforms.
“This is bigger than Mike Brown,” De Andrea Nichols, 26, a social entrepreneur in St. Louis, told The Huffington Post at the protests last week. “This is an issue that has been occurring regularly in our nation, and it took this death to make everyone go over the tipping point. In the future, we shouldn’t have to wait for something to happen to have our measures, our strategies, our tactics in place to prevent it.”
Anti-Muslim activist Pamela Geller believes that President Obama and other administration officials use the translation “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” (ISIL) instead of “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria” (ISIS) to describe the Middle Eastern extremist group because he wants to trick Americans who don’t know what or where the Levant is. After telling conservative talk show host Janet Mefferd yesterday that Obama aided Islamic extremists, Geller alleged that the president is trying to trick the American people by using the translation “ISIL.”
“He says ‘ISIL,’ and why ‘ISIL’ over ‘ISIS’? In my opinion, because it’s to distract, dissemble, deceive and disarm the American people,” Geller said. “The Islamic State of Levant, if anyone looks it up they see Levant and they are like, ‘What’s Levant?’ He knows this.”
The last word in the name “Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham,” has been translated as both “Syria” and “the Levant,” or the eastern Mediterranean. The New York Times notes that “al-Sham takes in not just Syria but also Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories, and even a part of southeastern Turkey.”
If Geller’s analysis is correct, she has also been aiding the group, as she hasregularlyused the terms “ISIL” and “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” on her blog Atlas Shrugs, where she repeatedlywrote that ISIL, and not ISIS, is the correct name for the group:
The media had amended the name of the Islamic army tearing through Syria and Iraq to ISIS (Islamic State of Syria and Iraq). But the correct name is ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant). What is the the Levant? The geographical area they mean to rule. The Levant includes Egypt, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, Cyprus and parts of Turkey.
KIRKWOOD, Missouri — Jean Loemker had planned to attend a city council meeting here one Thursday evening in February 2008, but she was tired and fell asleep on the couch with her TV on. When she woke later, a breaking news alert flashed on screen saying there had been a mass shooting at city hall.
“My first thought was: Cookie has lost it. I knew right then it was Cookie,” she recalled six years later, sitting in a coffeeshop directly across the street from where Charles Lee “Cookie” Thornton killed five people and injured two others in the council chambers before being killed by police.
Thornton was black and the city leaders were mostly white. The shooting exposed racial tension in this affluent St. Louis suburb about 20 miles south of Ferguson, which has been rocked by two weeks of its own racial unrest after a white police officer killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager.
Now, as Ferguson begins to look for a path forward, the city might find lessons in Kirkwood, which has found some success in bridging its own racial divide after a violent flash point that is still never far from residents’ minds.
The memory of the shooting, which attracted national attention, was revived for some Ferguson residents this week as the city prepared to hold its first council meeting since Brown’s death. Officials ultimately decided to cancel the meeting, citing security concerns.
“It was just one person acting, it had nothing to do with the rest of our community.”KIRKWOOD MAYOR ART MCDONNELLL
Thornton’s grievances with the white establishment of Kirkwood were personal and bureaucratic — “It was just one person acting, it had nothing to do with the rest of our community,” Mayor Art McDonnelll told msnbc — but they were the offspring of a forced marriage between two very different communities years earlier, as documented in a four-part St. Louis Magazine series and various other media reports.
In 1991, the mostly white Kirkwood annexed Meacham Park, a historic but run-down black neighborhood in unincorporated St. Louis County where Thornton lived. The merger was approved by large margins in both communities, but problems soon arose.
Not long after the merger, Kirkwood invoked eminent domain to take over large swaths of Meacham Park —much of it blighted or home to Section 8 housing — in order to build a Wal-Mart Supercenter and other commercial developments.
Eventually two-thirds of the neighborhood would be taken and Meacham Park’s population would fall by 30%. The community’s mostly black, mostly poor residents numbered less than 800, and they were swept into a city of more than 27,000, only 7% of whom were black.
The character of Meacham Park, whose streets are named after black luminaries like Crispus Attucks and which traces its roots back to 1896, seemed imperiled.
Even now, some residents feel they were cheated out of their land, says Harriet Patton, a longtime African-American activist in the neighborhood who heads the Meacham Park Neighborhood Improvement Association. “There are still some people who share that disposition and have not been very pleased with city officials and getting some resolution with their individual land,” she told msnbc.
Kirkwood has promoted its efforts to integrate the communities, including investing millions of dollars in infrastructure and home improvements. They built a handsome park in the center of the neighborhood. But everyone, white and black, agrees there’s still more to be done.
In its 2013 Annual Report, the city’s official Human Rights Commission wrote that it “continued to monitor the relationship between the City of Kirkwood and the Meacham Park neighborhood. The issues are long standing and deep, they need attention.” It took until last year for a subdivision of Kirkwood to remove unenforceable language from its bylaws prohibiting African-Americans from owning homes in the area.
Mourners hug as others leave following a memorial service for Kenneth Yost at First Presbyterian Church Monday, Feb. 11, 2008, in Kirkwood, Mo.
Photo by Jeff Roberson/AP
For Thornton, a black resident of Meacham Park, the problems were more idiosyncratic. Suddenly, things he had done for years, like park his business’ trucks on residential property, were illegal under Kirkwood’s city ordinances. As violations piled up, he fought aone-man war with city hall and lost at almost every turn. The defeats only seemed to further confirm his suspicions of a racist conspiracy against him, and drove him to more dramatic and unhinged displays of defiance, especially at Kirkwood City Council meetings, according to residents.
Loemker, a social worker who is now the area’s Democratic National Committeewoman, went to at least a year’s worth of meetings with Thornton while she was pushing the city to adopt an anti-smoking ordinance.
He was eccentric and pushed the envelope too far, she said, recalling a time he got dragged out of a meeting in handcuffs. But he was also funny and well-known in his community, where he was involved in charitable causes. “Cookie wanted a voice, he wanted to be heard. And he never felt like he was being heard,” she said.
Thornton grew increasingly erratic, getting into a physical confrontation with a city official at a local bar and picketing outside the mayor’s house. Not long after a federal court dealt him a final legal blow, Thornton went to city hall. This time he was armed.
Just as the city council meeting was about to begin on Feb. 7, 2008 , he started his rampage by shooting a police officer outside city hall. Thornton then took the officer’s gun, entered the council chamber, and shot the mayor, two council members, the public works director, a reporter, and another police officer. He died there behind a desk under a hail of police gunfire. The mayor later succumbed to his injuries.
Six years later, Kirkwood and Meacham Park have tried to find positive lessons from the tragedy. They held months of meetings to build relationships between the two sides of town, brought in a consultant who helps municipalities with tensions like these, worked to build trust between police and black residents, strengthened the human rights commission, and took other steps.
The measures helped, black and white leaders agree, but the effort is still a work in progress. “We are a closer-knit community and one that is proud of itself for what we have accomplished,” said Mayor McDonnell, who, like most city leaders, is white.
“I’m proud of Kirkwood. I think we’ve moved in a positive direction.”JEFFREY BLAIR, A BLACK RESIDENT OF MEACHAM PARK
Jeffrey Blair, an African-American resident of Meacham Park who sits on the Neighborhood Improvement Association board agreed. “I’m proud of Kirkwood. I think we’ve moved in a positive direction,” he said.
Already, the community is looking for ways to help Ferguson. Blair said that while the two violent incidents are “extremes,” they are emblematic of racial problem prevalent throughout St. Louis and so many other American cities. “Something horrific happens, and without that happening, people don’t realize that there are these inequities,” he explained.
In some ways, what happened in Kirkwood and Ferguson are almost the inverse of each other. In Ferguson, the act of one man provoked a community to revolt; in Kirkwood, the experience of a minority community helped provoke the action of one man.
Blair said leaders are already looking for ways to help Ferguson. There are plans for meetings with faith leaders in the two communities, some of which have already taken place, an event at a local church to show solidarity, and talk of political leaders joining together. Loemker invited Ferguson’s Democratic National Committeewoman, Patricia Bynes, to attend the party’s next meeting.
The key, both white and black residents agreed, is to build personal relationships across the divide, which is easier said than done.
Patton, who has often sparred with city officials, said a key pitfall to avoid is “uncontrolled anger.”
“The message that seems so needed is that there’s no winner in the fighting amongst the races. The blacks don’t win, the whites don’t win. So we might as well recognize that we’re on this earth together,” she said.
This year, Cookie’s nephew Jayson Thornton ran for city council. The treasurer for the neighborhood association, the younger Thornton is respected in Meacham Park. He fell short of winning the seat, but garnered 1,300 votes, which Patton said is a good sign.
For Todd Smith, the positive change he sought was more personal. Smith was the reporter who was shot while covering the meeting for the local Suburban Journals, and he could not have expected the routine assignment would change his life. Smith told msnbc he probably could never feel comfortable at an event like that again.
Today he works for Fathers’ Support Center, a St. Louis organization that works to help African-American fathers get involved in the lives of their children. The group has helped more than 11,000 fathers and over 26,000 children in the area, and just graduated a new class from the program this month. The group’s youth director attended Michael Brown’s funeral.
“I don’t know if I would be doing what I am doing now if I didn’t have that horrible experience happen,” he recalled. “If you’re faced with this situation, you can either turn very negative or make a positive as best you can out of it.”