Police brutality in Ferguson escalates drastically tonight

Another young, unarmed black boy was executed over the weekend — this time by the police. Witnesses claim Mike Brown, a young man returning from a store who was due to leave for university in a week, was shot from 30+ feet away by police while he had his hands up. That he was shot ten times. That he was left to lay in the street for four hours while police “contained” the scene.

The police claimed that he had been shot after a struggle with an officer in which he tried to get the officer’s gun. They claim that he had been arrested on suspicion of shoplifting — despite the store claiming they’d never called the police and didn’t suspect Brown of this alleged crime in the first place.

Protesters chanted things like “No Justice, No Peace” and “Don’t Shoot Me”, and the news media reported this as “Kill The Police”. People are rightly outraged that a young, unarmed boy was murdered by white government officials, and these same officials respond to their grieving by bringing out police dogs and tanks. A cop proclaims, on CNN no less, “bring it on, you fucking animals.”

The town of Ferguson, St. Louis is tonight a warzone as militarized police crack down on protesters. And what do you hear on TV? “Looting” and “rioting”. Nothing about murdering an unarmed boy sparking the protests that are being spun as a race riot. And this in a week that already saw a black man murdered by cops for holding an airsoft gun in the airsoft gun aisle of Wal-Mart.

Antonio French has been recording scenes from the day’s protest and the police action, which now includes firing rubber bullets and tear gas into crowds, shining lights directly at reporters who are trying to take video, and intimidating people who are clearly only armed with cell phones.

This brutality has got to fucking end. What year is this?

Pine River, MN’s puppy mill animal seizure, and our temporary foster dog

About a month ago, since Jodi can’t work on the Spousal visa she’s under, she decided to start volunteering some of her time at a local animal shelter. The shelter was at the time flooded with animals after a puppy mill — Country Pride Kennel, owned and operated by 60 year old Deborah B. Rowell in Pine River, MN — was shut down and all the animals were seized. All 130 animals. All of whom were evidently kept in insufferable heat, mud-filled hovels as kennels, and rarely with available clean water or shade. One was reportedly found dead in its kennel, in fact. Enough of the dogs were pregnant on being seized that the shelter ended up with more than 200 animals to deal with.


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Anatomy of an apology

People are talking a lot lately about what qualities a genuine apology might take — what sort of apology, for instance, Ron Lindsay might be expected to make if many of the feminists he’s so undercut with his opening speech are going to actually accept it and thereafter find it in their hearts to resume their support of CFI, given that most of us have explicitly ASKED for such an apology.

Kickstarter gave us a great example that we can dissect, even where it has a few rough edges yet. They even did it in exactly the right order.

The backstory: a really horrid pick-up artist manual with first draft material including passages like:

Pull out your cock and put her hand on it. Remember, she is letting you do this because you have established yourself as a LEADER. Don’t ask for permission, GRAB HER HAND, and put it right on your dick.

In the context of a relationship where you’re not particularly familiar with a person, there’s good reason why there was an outcry against this rape-culture-steeped, utterly empathy-free, deep-fried nonsense, and why Kickstarter has apologized for not acting in time to shut it down. The Kickstarter was fully funded, and they were made aware with only two hours left before it closed. They were not able to stop the automated processes from finishing, and so this pick-up artist’s manual on how to input Konami codes into women to unlock Sex Mode will probably come into being.

(Then again, it probably would anyway — I have no idea what the kickstarter would actually fund, short of vanity press publishing.)

So, despite the damage that was done, why does Kickstarter’s apology work?
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WaPo: Homegrown radicals opposed “US actions in the Muslim world”. See what they did there?

I have hardly had any time lately to blog (or much of anything leisure-related, honestly), but I’ve been trying to keep an eye on how the media’s been reporting on the Boston Marathon bombing. With Glenn Beck and the rest of the right-wing desperate to make this bombing about Islam, to fuel the rampant anti-Muslim racism in the States presently, this particular news article jumped at me as just a little too blatant about drawing links that aren’t there. It takes some ridiculous contortions to make the Boston bombing suspects’ actions have anything whatsoever to do with Islam, and the Washington Post was more than willing to pretzel themselves in an article purporting to explain how the brothers are essentially home-grown domestic terrorists with non-existent ties to outside influence.

The wording here is just too precious:

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe an ongoing investigation, said Dzhokhar and his older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was killed by police as the two attempted to avoid capture, do not appear to have been directed by a foreign terrorist organization.

Rather, the officials said, the evidence so far suggests they were “self-radicalized” through Internet sites and U.S. actions in the Muslim world. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has specifically cited the U.S. war in Iraq, which ended in December 2011 with the removal of the last American forces, and the war in Afghanistan, where President Obama plans to end combat operations by the end of 2014.

Emphasis mine.

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On Systemic Violence, Misconceptions, and How We Fail Ourselves

Considered Exclamations has a guest post by Brendan Murphy, treasurer of the SSA’s board of directors, which analyzes the political reactions to previous mass shootings and the fallout thereafter. It’s what I was asking for yesterday: for people to look at these shootings as a trend, and deal with them appropriately.

The above sign is a decoration of Fenway Park, well-known to many Bostonians, and sponsored by the Massachusetts-based organization Stop Handgun Violence. After this morning’s violence in Connecticut, those big numbers will tick upwards by 18. And yet, White House press secretary Jay Carney had the following to say this morning:

“Today’s not … a day to engage in the usual Washington policy debates. That day will come, but today’s not that day.”

I agree – today is not the time to have ineffectual discussions peppered with political platitudes and unfulfilled promises of resurrecting bygone legislation. Now is the time to substantively discuss exactly what systemic forces lead us down this road time and time again. If all we do is grieve and mourn without addressing the why, we have failed the victims, and ourselves. Let’s look at some 2012 history, and what’s been said politically.

Keep reading.

Yet another isolated incident of gun violence

I talk quite a bit about guns. Today’s shooting in Newtown, Connecticut — where a twenty year old assaulted an elementary school and killed 26 people, 20 of them kids — just leaves me dumbstruck. The only thing I can bring myself to say is, what will it take before people start treating these mass shootings as something more than isolated incidents?

This interactive map shows what I’m talking about quite well. A snapshot:

Since 1999, there have been 45 shootings in schools worldwide; 31 were in the States. Mass shootings are almost a daily occurrence in your country, and each seems to be going for a high score over the last. They are a much realer and more immediate threat than death by terrorism, or plane crashes, or bear attacks. Why are you as a nation so numb to this? Why is your immediate recourse as a nation to demand that people have readier access to guns, to demand that everyone go armed, to put more guns into the hands of more people who might for some reason feel oppressed and take it out on a school full of children?

Meanwhile, in China, children suffered a knife attack in an elementary school. 20 children were injured. Injured, not killed — which would almost certainly not be the case if the attacker had a gun. And people are talking about China having something rotten at its core. Why is nobody saying the same about America and the gun culture that would ignore such trending data?

Other posts you should read:
Kate Donovan: When you tie shootings to mental illness
Miriam Mogilevsky: If not now, when? On politicizing tragedy

Both of these posts lead me to the same conclusion: there is something larger going on here and the more we sweep it all under the rug and repeat the drumbeat platitude of “more guns”, the deeper into the delusion rabbithole we go.

And another: Greta Christina: The Newtown shootings: It is not too soon to start talking

Noah’s ark film delayed due to… yes, flooding

Via WorstPreviews.com, a slight silver lining to all the bad news coming out of Hurricane Sandy. It seems Darren Aronofsky’s current project, Noah, has suffered from delays and set damage owing to all the flooding in Oyster Bay, New York. The best part? This quote:

To make it as realistic as possible, the director built a massive ark, which measures 450 feet long, 75 feet tall and 45 feet wide. Unfortunately, it was never meant to be sailed.

Emphasis mine. That’s what you call irony. Considering scholars pretty much uniformly agree that the Bible dimensions wouldn’t carry the necessary load, that’s as realistic as I think Aronofsky could have made it!
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Video of ConEd building explosion in NYC

Apparently this is the ConEd building at E14th and FDR. Pretty cataclysmic. Shouldn’t be long before news outlets start picking this up. If you’re in the path of this hurricane, get off my damn blog and get to a hurricane shelter ASAP.

And remember, Mitt Romney will get rid of FEMA. He said so himself. But don’t worry, his sons are invested in disaster recovery companies.

Curiosity piqued, tonight at 2:31am!

Atlantic Daylight Time, of course. So 05:31 UTC.

Remember Curiosity and its Rube Goldberg-like planned landing? That happens tonight. Tomorrow morning, technically, for some of us. Phil Plait has details on how to participate in the fun:

If you want to watch the proceedings live, I have a few things you can do.

1) Fraser Cain, Pamela Gay, and I will be doing a Google+ Hangout on August 5th starting at 03:00 UTC on August 5/6 and running until 07:00 – note that for the US, this starts on the evening of the 5th at 23:00 Eastern time and runs through 03:00 in the morning. We plan on having special guests, a live feed from NASA, and more. The Hangout is being sponsored by Google itself, CosmoQuest, and the SETI Institute, which has a strong astrobiology mission and therefore is very interested in Mars. Our coverage will be complete, intense, awesome, and fun. Promise! There’s more info at Universe Today, and we have an events page set up on G+ to help you out. There’s also a Facebook events page, too! Use the #marshangout hashtag on Twitter to follow along, too.

2) You can always watch NASA TV. They’ve posted a schedule of events for media.

3) If you are in the Pasadena California area, then join the party! Literally: The Planetary Society is throwing a bash to celebrate and watch the landing at the Paseo Colorado – Garfield Promenade on Saturday, August 4. Attending will be TPS blogger (and big pal o’ mine) Emily Lakdawalla as well as Bill Nye (yes, THE Bill Nye). You can get more info on Emily’s blog, and get tickets online. If I could, I’d go there too! But I’ll be at home and quite busy myself (see #1 above).

4) The Planetary Society is holding PlanetFest at the Pasadena Convention Center on August 4 and 5 – it’s again a celebration of planetary exploration. It looks like fun!

X-Box 360 users will also be able to live-stream the landing. My sleep schedule has been completely screwed by work for a very long time, so I’m planning on staying up myself. I’m trying to figure out if the PS3 browser can handle Ustream, but I’m not having a lot of luck with it myself. Anyone know of a good way to stream to PS3, given that’s my primary media centre?