A University of Minnesota student did that

The first words that caught my eye were the words “University of Minnesota student”. The second words were “pleads guilty to rape charges”. I read the story anyway and was horrified. It includes the full victim’s statement, and it was gut-rending. I can’t quite imagine the mind of Daniel Drill-Mellum — how can he do what he did to that woman? How can anyone cause that much pain to anyone?

Don’t read it. I regret having done so.

But there is one somewhat milder piece of the story that jumped out at me. The rapist was an acquaintance, as they often are, and a friend, the kind of friend you call after a traumatic experience, had praised the guy and acknowledged, after the fact, that Drill-Mellum had hurt other women before.

I remember stumbling out of the apartment and running in fear, thinking that he would surely come after me. That feeling still sticks with me to this day. I first texted a friend to come and get me, and then called another. The friend who, earlier in the day, told me, “I love Dan”. This friend answered the phone to me sobbing uncontrollably and said “don’t even say a word, I know what happened. He raped my friend too”. In the months to come, I would become angry about this statement, and the fact that this wasn’t the first time he had done this to someone, but at the time I was just happy that he had said “rape” so that I didn’t have to. I had no words for what I had just experienced, and I still don’t.

How do you do that, too? I hope this “friend” is also feeling some fraction of the guilt that ought to be wracking him right now.

Beware of empowr

A couple of days ago, I started getting all these messages from something calling itself “empowr”, a social networking site. First alarm: they announced that I had made a post to their site. No, I didn’t, I had never heard of it. Second alarm: they kept sending me messages announcing that I had earned $X from my post and my photo (remember, I had made no post or photo). It was up to $25 today, which sounds rather sweet for two days earnings from something that involved no work at all on my part.

Wait…money for nothing? Don’t trust it. So I looked into it.

Empowr is a scam. It’s not illegal, but it is a cheat in which they give you imaginary credits to monetize connections with imaginary dollar values, but to cash in on those monetized links, you have to repay empowr for all those credits they loaned to you. And, surprise, those loaned credits cost you more than your earnings from links.

Get out while you can. Don’t give them a credit card or paypal information, because you’re authorizing them to buy out all those ‘credits’ they give you.

I checked out the site myself, and here’s another warning: they don’t give you any way to quit empowr once you’re in. Fortunately, I didn’t give them access to facebook or any credit info, so they don’t have any hooks on me, and I just blocked all their messages in email. I expect there will be urgent notifications of ever-growing sums of money piling up in my fictitious account, all getting automatically thrown in the trash.

Gun control NOW

There’s been another mass shooting, at a night club in Florida, with about 20 dead so far. There is something rotten in the USA, and part of it has to be this culture that regards owning an assault rifle as a right, and the use of that weapon as an expression of masculine power.

It needs to stop.

The only problem is that trying to take their guns away sets the gun-fondlers to squealing as if they’re threatened with castration, and the glinty-eyed madmen at the NRA get more money thrown at them to buy up congress. Maybe what we also need is huge reforms in campaign finance so that our representatives would listen more to the people who are moaning in fear in the electorate, than to the smug parasites with bags of money.

Because you know already that no government, state or federal, is going to change a damn thing now.

More information is trickling out. The death toll is up to 50, and the shooter is named Omar Mateen. The story is that he was infuriated to have seen two men kissing.

Now the take-away from all that should be that a) assault rifles in the hands of a single madman can cause horrific casualties, and b) this was a hate crime against the gay community. Unfortunately, I predict that all that will reverberate through the media is that he had an Islamic name, therefore we’ve got to do something about the Muslims.

The narrative has been set. The headline on CNN right now is “GUNMAN WAS PRO-ISIS”.

Jake Tapper wants you to be sure to know that this was caused by radical Islam.

“There are a lot of members of that community and supporting friends and family who are very worried,” Tapper explained. “Obviously if this was radical Islam, which the special agent in charge of the FBI suggested it may have been, that is a community that has been under siege from radical Islam.”

Do they even know that this hatred of LGBTQ people is a property held in common by radical Islam and radical Christianity? Except of course that radical Islam is thankfully marginalized in the US, while radical Christianity is happily legislating against queers from a position of power.

Governor Rick Scott doesn’t want to say openly that this was an attack on the gay community, and thinks the proper response is to “pray”.

Fuck “thoughts and prayers”.

The whole dang family is this clueless!

Brock Turner raped an unconscious woman. His dad called it a “20 minute action” and seemed to think losing his appetite for steak was punishment enough. Have you been wondering what his mom had to say? The court documents have been released, and now we can read what his heartbroken mother wrote to defend him.

Those happy family times are gone forever, replaced by despair, fear, depression, anxiety, doubt, and dread. I don’t think I have been able to take a deep breath since this happened. My first thought upon wakening every morning is “this isn’t real, this can’t be real. Why him? Why HIM? WHY? WHY?” I have cried every single day since Jan. 18. This is on my mind every moment.

Why HIM?, as if this was something horrible that just happened to her happy innocent son? He’s a rapist. He raped someone. This wasn’t something that happened to him, it was something he did. He is the subject of the sentence “He raped her”, not the object.

I am sure this event has made her family miserable, but let’s not get confused about who is responsible.

The Bundy clan are filthy vandals


The people who occupied the Malheur refuge were more than just sanctimonious criminals — they were also disgusting. Here’s a gallery of photos illustrating the wreckage they left behind. They trashed the place. They wrecked the land. They disrespected the property of the people who worked at the refuge while demanding that their property rights were paramount.

That photo is of their legacy: a shit-filled trench.

That’s how I’ll always remember the Bundys.

Poor Cliven

You should read all of the charges in Cliven Bundy’s indictment: assault, extortion, conspiracy, and more, and it’s all based on the 2014 standoff at his ranch. The FBI has been waiting patiently all this time to sweep him up and lock him away with an overwhelming list of crimes.

The other rather amusing thing about it all: Bundy, the guy with the great ranch and who has been grazing herds of cattle on federal land, who owes at least a million dollars to the federal government, has asked the federal government to provide him with a public defender. The freeloading never ends.

Oregon occupation is ending

I’m actually respecting the way the FBI has been handling the Bundy situation. They’ve been deliberate and cautious and have been trying to minimize the gunplay. I wish police everywhere were paying attention: guns are a last resort.

OPB has been tracking developments. The FBI has closed in on the Malheur refuge, and has demanded that the remaining four surrender. Those four have been freaking out and posting defiant videos to youtube, which do diddly for their situation now but are going to play well in the courtroom. The story is that they’re going to surrender sometime this morning.

The next step will be for the FBI to document all the damage the militia did to the refuge. That’ll also play well in court.

Cliven Bundy has been arrested. He sent out a twitter message and email calling for all “patriots” to go to Oregon. All caps, of course.

After his plane landed in Oregon, he was arrested. How anticlimactic. And how totally predictable. And about time. Anyone else who is a million dollar scofflaw wouldn’t need to incite rebellion to find themselves in jail.

These people aren’t heroic patriots. They’re just arrogant, privileged crooks with weird religious beliefs to justify criminal behavior.

Sometimes, the truth is murkier than you’d like

The FBI has released video of the Finicum shooting in Oregon. We’ve been hearing competing stories about it: some have said that he was kneeling in surrender, his arms raised above his head, when the FBI gunned him down in cold blood. Others have said he was charging the police like Rooster Cogburn at the end of True Grit, demanding a hero’s death.

The video shows why both stories are going around. Finicum’s car crashes into the snow at a roadblock. He jumps out, arms held up, and runs away from the road, as if he thinks he can escape. But he’s surrounded. There are agents all around. He stops. He turns around. He lowers his arms and fumbles at his belt. Someone shoots, and he falls to the ground. The camera pans around (it’s on a helicopter or drone, and there is no sound), and you see a few brief flashes of gunfire and smoke — I can’t tell whether the occupants of the car are firing or being shot at. Then there is a few minutes of agents standing around, not ducking for cover, before the occupants begin to emerge with their hands up. Finicum’s body is lying in the snow, not moving.

So it’s a little of all of the stories. I think Finicum was in the heat of anger, ran out with the idea of escaping somehow, saw it was hopeless, and fumbled for a gun. I’d rather the law exercised more restraint — I could imagine that if he did pull a gun, he’d have waved it around in futile bravado before dropping it as the hopelessness of his situation sunk in — but I wasn’t there, and I can sympathize with the officers not wanting to risk getting shot at.

What a waste.

The beginning of the end of the Malheur occupation

Ammon Bundy, Ryan Bundy, and several others have been arrested, and someone unnamed has been killed.

The FBI and Oregon State Police report Ammon Bundy, Ryan C. Bundy, Brian Cavalier, Shawna Cox and Ryan Waylen Payne were all arrested.

Officials also said there was one fatality and one person suffered non-life threatening injuries and was transferred to a local hospital.

It is unfortunate that the standoff seems to be ending (but this encounter occurred outside the refuge, and I presume the fanatics instead are still hoping for martyrdom) in violence, but I suppose it’s inevitable that people who babbled about killing or be killed weren’t going to just peaceably surrender.

Let’s hope the heart has gone out of the remaining occupiers and that the rest fades away quietly.

At least they picked the right place for it

Two men got into an argument over a $25 fee in a gun shop, and what do you know, they all decided to resolve it with — you guessed it — guns. End result: two dead, two in the hospital with critical injuries.

What struck me, though, is where it occurred: Picayune, Mississippi. It seems to me unwise to be selling deadly firearms in a place where you just know petty squabbles are going to flare up all the time.