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Monday, December 31, 2012

Beethoven Rules

WQXR, the famous and influential classical music station in NYC, does an annual listener poll ranking (and then playing) the greatest 100 compositions of all time.  This year, no shock (to this listener), my man Beethoven took six of the top ten slots, with symphonies 3,5,6,7 and 9 and the "Emperor" piano concerto, including three of the top four.  My #1 pick, and theirs (and enjoy our book): 

Band Aid for New Year's Eve

One of my more memorable ones, 41 years ago:  The Band at Academy of Music in NYC.   "Don't Do It."  Here tis.  Horns via Allen Toussaint!  But we lost Levon in 2012.



U2 Can Enjoy 'New Year's Day'

Love this early clip for Bono's bright yellow hair.

Say Goodbye to 2012

My photo, in the Tuileries, Paris.

Off Beam

Yes, a Star Trek: Next Generation blooper real is just as ridiculous as you'd expect. Shields up!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Questions Remain in Suicide of Baseball Player

Last week we noted the death of former big league baseball utility player Ryan Freel, who shot himself at the age of 36.   I'd followed his career for years and his reputation as a reckless, all-out player.  A major NYT piece up just now, covers his 10 to 15 concussions, and concerns raised by his ex-wife for a long period.  Until now, concussions that may have led to early deaths of football players have gotten the lion's share of attention, but this may change things a bit.

Sunday Morning in the Church of Beethoven

For my weekly feature:  One of my Christmas presents (from spouse) was the acclaimed new book about LvB's Fifth Symphony--no, it's actually about just the famous first four notes.  You've heard them a 1000 times but perhaps not played only on piano, and by Glenn Gould no less (though I prefer his rendition of the Pastoral Symphony).  My Beethoven book, with Kerry Candaele.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Adam Lanza: Deal With It

Michael Shaw has long done tremendous and valuable work analyzing and commenting on photos in the news at the Bag News site.  A few days back he looked at the most commonly published photos of Sandy Hook killer Adam Lanza in the U.S. media, almost always the same couple of "distorted" geek/freak shots.  But he found a couple of others mainly used abroad or not at all.  In the one at left he seems to be an average American boy and Shaw suggests that maybe it is little circulated because of that.  You almost have to try to relate to him.

The photo does not show his mom's gun and rifle case in the background, however.

Shaw: "If we’re going to learn from this tragedy, especially with all the question marks that exist surrouning mental health, distorting Lanza’s image beyond his already thoroughly internally-distorted self is a bad idea. Rather, it is incumbent on us to try and see him as clearly as we can."  

Subway Murder: Anti-Muslim Hate Crime?

You may have read that a youngish woman has been arrested for the latest killing in the NYC subway system featuring a man pushed onto the tracks in front of an onrushing train.  Well, it turns out she has now been charged with a hate crime, and second-degree murder, based on anti-Muslim comments she made in relation to the victim.  The man, originally from India, was actually a Hindu.

UPDATES:  Guy who knew dead man writes about him movingly.  Also: Mayor Bloomberg says no big deal, look at how much the homicide rate has dropped.  Would he say same thing if victim was Jewish?

Lost and 'Pound'

Very positive review in tomorrow's NYT business section of brand new book, Pound Foolish: Exposing the Dark Side of the Personal Finance Industry,  by Helene Olen, a terrific blogger over at the Forbes site, a book more for the masses than the finance wonks.  As Caitiin Kelly writes, "It’s a take-no-prisoners examination of the ways she says we have been scared, misled or bamboozled by those purporting to help us achieve financial security."
What most advice fails to factor in — and what we often choose to overlook ourselves — are the costly realities of things like job loss, protracted unemployment, medical bankruptcy and high-interest debt. Even when we do save, plummeting interest rates, falling home prices and other economic events imperil our best efforts. 
And there's this:
One woman who comes in for some scathing treatment is the best-selling financial adviser Suze Orman, whom Ms. Olen criticizes as offering “financial platitudes” and making huge amounts of money by telling others to be frugal. Ms. Olen writes that “Orman’s supposed wisdom often contradicts itself,” and that her affiliations with companies like FICO and Lending Tree raise questions about the impartiality of her advice. 

I Wish There Was a River...

I could skate away on.  Or so Joni Mitchell imagined.  Here's the Hudson River at its widest point off Piermont, N.Y.   My photo blog here.


Pistols Packin'

David Chase ends his disappointing rock 'n roll movie Not Fade Away with the Sex Pistols' wacked-out version of Jonathan Richman's immortal and already wacked-out "Roadrunner." (Jonathan ripped off the Velvets but at least showed great taste.)  It doesn't fit the time frame of the movie but I guess it is meant to suggest where rock was heading a few years down the road.   With the radio on.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Full Nelson

One of the highlights of the disappointing new David Chase rock 'n roll film Not Fade Away is a couple of apt soundtrack minutes of the great "Down So Low" by one of the most underrated singers in rock history, Tracy Nelson.  Here she does it live back in the mid-1980s. Etta James and Linda Ronstadt couldn't touch her on this.  May be a shock to anyone used to auto-tuning and soundalike female singers today. 

How Spengler Got His Guns

Another argument for severe gun crackdown.  Turns out guy who gunned down the firefighters in Webster, N.Y., had a young female friend buy them for him two years ago.  He couldn't get them because he was ex-con--but found huge loophole by simply having her buy them.  He was even with her when it happened, police say.

 After the shootings she claimed someone had broken in and robbed the weapons (including the assault rifle and shotgun) but now she's been busted for buying them for the nutcase felon.  She denies it but apparently he fingered her in his suicide note. 

Fiscal Cliff, Not

Take a break from dwelling the ugly cliff, and ponder this, my photo from Sedona, at sundown.


Dead for Christmas

Just reported locally that a homeless man in my town froze to death in the town park on Christmas Eve.  Was discovered next day on some stone steps but only being reported now.   Apparently he was known around town as a street person and perhaps I ran into him myself.   Was 46 and left no kin.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Man Who Shot Firefighters: It Gets More Bizarre

NYT story posted tonight on interviews with people who lived next door to killer William Spengler.  A woman says that within 15 minutes of meeting him, just after buying the house next door, Spengler confessed that he'd killed his grandma on the staircase with a hammer.  The neighbor did not back out of her purchase--she considered Spengler just an old hippie--but had the staircase replaced.   Also:  She found the ashes of a previous owner of her house in the basement in a can.  A descendent says the guy wanted his ashes thrown against the side of a bar but it never happened.

Meanwhile, no one seems to know why he hated his sister (who he also murdered).  And no idea yet on where he got his killing weapons (illegally).

 

Uncensored Shooting

It seemed obvious earlier this week that the Israelis were engaged in a coverup of the shooting of a Palestinian boy, 17, at a checkpoint--editing a video to twist matters.  Now truth appears to be out, due to release of full tape.  Though not easy to see, it shows the boy retreating as two shots hit home.  a NYT blog covers it tonight.  Video:


The End of December

Always a pleasure at this time of year to post Leonard Cohen singing, "the end of December, I'm writing you now to see if you're better."  This one goes way back to 1979.  Amazingly, he's still singing it live 33 years later, in three hour shows.

Muddy Sound

Last night I ranted about John Lee Hooker never getting a whiff of Kennedy Center honors, which went to Buddy Guy this year.   Ditto on Muddy Waters.  Here, late in career and without guitar but insisting he is a "M-a-n" with The Band at "The Last Waltz." Below that, "Hoochie-Coochie Man" with the Stones.  And "Got My Mojo Workin'" at Newport 1960.

Gunner Retaliates for Newspaper Exposure

Happiness is a warning about guns?  A few days back, on this blog, I was among the first to highlight my local paper, the Journal News, publishing the names and addresses (and mapping) all of the gun permit holders in Rockland and Westchester County, New York.  This has sparked a lively and angry debate around the country.  Now one of the pro-gunners has retaliated by publishing the addresses and details of the lives of the newspaper staffers (not just those involved in the story), including their children.   Guy on CNN today, see video

Full Wash Post story on controversy.   Revealing that one gun owner complain she feels like she'd put on a sex offender list.

Longtime media critic in Boston, Dan Kennedy, has mixed feelings worth reading. 

Bass Hit

She didn't have a lot of hits, but Fontella Bass had a great one in the mid-'60s, "Rescue Me."  She died yesterday at 72.  From "Shindig":

Under-Reported Stories 2012

My appearance yesterday on AJE on Project Censored's picks for underplayed media coverage for the year.  I don't necessarily agree with everything on the list or the order but here you go:

L.A. Turn-In

I've been charting local gun "buy back" programs around the USA lately and, since my son is back in Los Angeles, I am happy to report the latest, in that city with more than 1700 pistols and rifle--including 60 assault rifles-- turned in by the afternoon (with more to come) to get a gift card in exchanging for their little killing machine.   The mayor moved it up from Mother's Day after Newtown but one would wish for these every weekend.   Drop in the bucket but maybe one life has been saved there already.

But on a large scale:  40 members of Congress have signed on to a call directed at Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner for a $200 million (also a drop in the bucket) national gun buy back program to be included as part of the fiscal cliff talks.   Rep. Gerry Connelly (D-ILL)  calls it "a simple, immediate step we can take to assure the public we are committed to taking meaningful action.”  Lawmakers in New York State have said they oppose a state program, claiming it might cost  them $1 billion because there are so many guns out there. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Child's Loses Gift on Christmas--Gift of Life--Due to Shooting

A boy, age 10, was killed in an accidental shooting in  Memphis -- on Christmas afternoon.  "It's Christmas day, supposed to be a lovely day, when people come together, really,really sad," said neighbor Jim Devine.  Update:  Shot by brother, age 12, with an adult in the room who didn't notice he had "unsecured gun."

Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Wayne LaPierre: The New 'Baghdad Bob'?

Who would be surprised if Wayne LaPierre, the NRA chief, maybe sans the trademark beret,  simply re-worked slightly some of the classic quotes by Saddam's former Minister of information in Iraq as the U.S. troops moved in and threatened to take his weapons?

"No, I am not scared, and neither should you be."
"You can go and visit those places. Nothing there, nothing at all. Everything is okay."
"The American press is all about lies! All they tell is lies, lies and more lies!"
"We are in control, the White House is not in control of anything, they don't even control themselves!"
"Be assured: Our schools will be safe, protected."
"The battle is very fierce and God will make us victorious."
"They mock me for how I speak. I speak better English than they do."
"I have detailed information about the situation...which completely proves that what the media allege are illusions . . . They lie every day."
"They think that by scaring civilians and trying to distort the feelings of the people they will win."
"I can assure you that those villains will recognize in the future how they are pretending things which have never taken place."
"These cowards have no morals. They have no shame about lying."
"I would like to clarify a simple fact here: How can you lay siege to a whole country? Who is really under siege now?"
"The United Nations...it is all their fault."
"We blocked them inside the city. The rear is blocked."
"The president, he needs to be hit on the head."
"I blame Al-Jazeera."

Van Morrison on Gun Owners

From Van Morrison's great obscure mid-1970s album, Veedon Fleece.
Oh, ain't it lonely
When you're living with a gun
When you can't slow down and you can't turn 'round
And you can't trust anyone

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

My Neighbor Has a Gun

 UPDATE #2  Well, I was on this yesterday (it's my crappy local paper, after all) but now everyone is covering, even NYT now, as
"debate" builds. 

UPDATE:  My new piece at The Nation on this.

Earlier:  That's what I discovered just now, thanks to an amazing mapping project carried out by my local--and usually quite unambitious--daily newspaper, the Journal News, which "covers" Westchester and Rockland counties just north of NYC.   Reporters got the names and addresses of everyone with a gun (not rifle) permit and mapped it using Google maps.  Zooming in you find your area and dots bring up the person with the permit over their home.

Only one on my short block is guy catty corner from me.  Someone  else on cross streets up and down the hill.  Scattered permits in my general area, probably much denser in a lot of other places.

The newspaper article also has an editor's note: "Journal News reporter Dwight R. Worley owns a Smith & Wesson 686 .357 Magnum and has had a residence permit in New York City for that weapon since February 2011," it states. 

Few newspapers have done this and those that have often stir up debate.  The Journal News defended its decision to print the names in a statement to ABC News, saying readers "are understandably interested to know about guns in their neighborhoods."  Objections usually include:  1) if bad guys check it out they can plot break-ins based on who doesn't (seemingly) have a legal gun, although might have rifle or illegal gun  2)  bad guys can target houses WITH guns, to steal them 3)  people named may get some kind of stigma 4) "You have judges, policemen, retired policemen, FBI agents — they have permits. Once you allow the public to see where they live, that puts them in harm’s way," Paul Piperato, the Rockland county clerk, told Worley.

U2 Can Do This Song

Linked earlier this week to Darlene Love's annual epic versions of this song on Letterman--though always amusing that a co-writer, Phil Spector,  is in prison for murder--but here's early U2 edition:

Spike vs. Tarantino, Who Hits Drudge

Goofball, overrated director Quentin Tarantino getting a lot of credit from film critics for "Django"-- for taking the bold step of coming out against...slavery.  Which reveals a lot about him--and the critics.  Well, he did come out against the Nazis in his last cartoon feature. 

Now Spike Lee--while admitting that he has not seen the new film--has been roasting him via Twitter and other outlets.  Excerpt: “American Slavery Was Not A Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western. It Was A Holocaust. My Ancestors Are Slaves. Stolen From Africa. I Will Honor Them.”

Spike, an overrated director himself,  has hit him on common use of N-word in past films--and it appears 100 times or more in the new one. Matt Drudge has done the same, but now Tarantino has hit back at HIM.

Update on Firefighters Tragedy

 UPDATE #2   Good piece here from Rochester paper on the Bushmaster used in shooting, some good quotes on it as "combat" weapon.  And many ammo magazines found with gunman next to his body.  Did not used also used in the D.C.-area sniper shootings and lawsuit that followed. 


UPDATE  Human remains found in Spengler's car believed to be his sister.

Earlier:  News conference at 11 a.m. in Webster, N.Y. just concluded reveals that shooter William Spengler left note detailing his plans--and used three weapons, including same type of .223 Bushmaster used by Adam Lanza in Sandy Hook.  From his note:  "I still have to get ready to see how much of the neighborhood I can burn down and do what I like doing best: killing people.”  Two or three-page note but revealed no motive.

More on weapons:  a Mossberg 12 gauge shotgun and a .38 caliber Smith & Wesson revolver and a stockpile of ammunition.

Spengler's sister, who lived in same house (and he hated her) still missing.

Two firefighters shot and survived in "stable" condition. 

A Colbert Christmas

Mavis, Tweedy, Sean Lennon, Harlem Choir, "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)."


Monday, December 24, 2012

'The Snowman' Redux

Perhaps you loved this when you watched when your kid or kids.  Or perhaps you were that kid.  In my case:  son and now grandson. Anyway:  Here's a full version of the wonderful "The Snowman" (loved the art and music).



Firefighters Shot in Western New York

UPDATE #6  Latest from local paper in Rochester.  Motive still not known.  Gunman had several weapons, illegally.  Photos of victims.  Note: As kid, my family had cabin near Lake Ontario just to the west of scene.


UPDATE #5  Audio of distress calls from scene, mainly from one amazingly firefighter shot (he survived).   Chilling. "Multiple down."  "Two DOA on the street."  Claim that shooter was using "assault rifle." 

UPDATE #4  Policewoman, 30, shot several times and killed in Wisconsin.  Also, AP reports, "a police officer died in Houston after a driver who refused to comply with a traffic stop crashed his vehicle then opened fire. A bystander was also fatally shot, according to Houston police spokesman John Cannon."

UPDATE #3   Gunman had spent 17 years in prison for beating his grandmother to death.   Did he get guns used in today's shooting legally?  Was  barred from owning legally in New York.  Also:  died of self-inflicted shot, although police had been firing on him.  Total of 7 houses destroyed.   There's a report that his sister is missing, but so many of such rumors proved false in the case of the Sandy Hook massacre... 

UPDATE  #2   Facebook page set up for firefighters in the Webster tragedy. 

UPDATE:   AP just reported that the gunman is dead--and that he set fire to entrap the firemen. 

Earlier:  Bizarre, and horrid, incident in upstate western New York (my childhood neck of the woods), as gunman or gunmen fire on firefighters who have come to fight blaze--two killed, two seriously injured and the fire then spread.  NYT has latest update but still not known why the shootings.  Perhaps gun nut thinking feds had come to seize guns?  Or the arsonist was mad?  Shooter or shooters still not found.  Community was scene of another fire last December--kid burned down his home, killing his father and two brothers.

Fire Set at Church With Occupy Supplies

They're now saying that a fire in a Brooklyn church is "suspicious"--and the church houses some of the supplies raised and distributed in the widely-hailed storm relief efforts by Occupy Sandy.   Supplies burned up though church saved.  Volunteers had been wrapping Christmas presents over the weekend. "There's a coalition of churches and a coalition of kitchens and a coalition of groups that are working on this issue. So hopefully, if anything happened to any one of us, the rest of us are going to help pick up the slack," said Jamie Kemmerer, a volunteer.

Kids Killed at Christmas

Update, Christmas Eve:  Girl, 18, shot and killed by drunken brother in Dallas.... Inebriated man in Houston kills girlfriend and daughter, age 13...boy, 16, on bike shot and killed in Miami....boy, 17, killed in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

Earlier: Last week, for several days, I charted kids shot with guns around the country--ranging in age from babies to teens, probably just scratching the surface.   As I noted last night, the twitter feed trying to find all fatal shootings, @gundeaths, has now drawn wide attention, and has partnered with Slate for an interactive feature.  Here's just a few updates from the weekend on youth deaths:

--Boy, 15, accidentally killed (probably) by family friend in North Carolina.   Another 15-year-old accidentally kills himself in Chicago. 

--Boy, 19, in Manchester, N.H., shoots himself in the head and dies, in accident.

--Teen shot and killed outside church in Saginaw, Mich.   Boy, 16,  shot and killed in his home in Kentucky.

--And then there's always this old standby:  kid kills father.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Gun Deaths Since Sandy Hook

The Twitter feed @GunDeaths has received wide attention lately for chronicling killings by firearms since the Newtown massacre (more than 145 listed so far).  Now Slate is partnering to produce interactive features.  Here's their first effort.   They also ask for volunteers to expand the count (as I've done this weeks on focusing on shooting of kids):
Of course, this data is incomplete. Not all reports get caught by @GunDeaths’ news alerts or his followers. Suicides, which are estimated to make up as much as 60 percent of gun deaths, typically go unreported. Nevertheless, we at Slate want to assemble this data as best we can.
And the more people who are paying attention, the better the data will be. You can help us draw a more complete picture of gun violence in America. If you know about a gun death in your community that isn’t represented here, please tweet @GunDeaths with a citation, and he’ll add it to his feed.
h/t @bbedway

Resisting a Punch Line Here

U.S. Sen. Michael Crapo (R-Idaho)  arrested for DUI  in Alexandria, VA., and has a court date in two weeks.  Whoops, he's a Mormon, no drinking allowed.  Blood alcohol level an impressive .110.  Mug shot at left.  Believe it or not, he's been in the Senate since 1998--and you may have never heard of him.  That distinctive.

Death of Navy SEAL Leader Now Probed as Suicide

(CNN)  The Navy is investigating the death in Afghanistan of one of its most senior SEAL officers as an apparent suicide, a U.S. military official tells CNN. Navy Cmdr. Job W. Price, 42, of Pottstown, Pennsylvania, died Saturday while serving as the commanding officer of SEAL Team 4, a special warfare unit based in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

The official, who has direct knowledge of the event, spoke on the condition of anonymity because the death remains under full investigation by the U.S. military.

The official said the family has been notified of the death and that it is being investigated as an apparent suicide. There is no indication at this time that Price was involved in any military-related investigations or controversies, the official said.

Apparently, when Price did not appear at an expected time, other military personnel went to look for him and discovered his body with an apparent gunshot wound.

Sunday Morning in the Church of Beethoven

My weekly feature, but good luck if you want to find some "Christmas music" from Ludwig.   But here's the opening, the Kyrie, from his fabled Missa Solemnis,  a particularly great rendition, which certainly could set the tone for the next few days of reflection and celebration.   And, also for the holiday, my Beethoven book, with Kerry Candaele.

Old Chestnut Roasting on the Fire

Marvin Gaye, live at the Apollo, 1963, "The Christmas Song."


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Wayne's World

NY Daily News, hardly a liberal rag, with one of its strongest front pages ever. 

Your Sunday 'NYT' Columns Today

You got Maureen Dowd on the NRA blaming the media for gun violence.  Tom Friedman's "Send in the Clowns"--that is, the GOP for denying climate change after Sandy and any need for gun control after Sandy Hook.  Frank Bruni on progress on same-sex marriage--and his Dad.

As I mentioned earlier, public ed Margaret Sullivan hits Times for error on Sandy Hook coverage.

For laughs, Russ Douthat on Bloomberg, LaPierre and "the void."

'Times' and Sandy Hook

NYT public editor Margaret Sullivan in her Sunday column hits the paper for errors in its early coverage of the Newtown massacre.  I've covered the mistakes common in the media as a whole here and the Times was by no mean the worst.  But good to see her criticism.
The Times can’t get pulled into the maelstrom of Twitter-era news. It has to stand apart from those news sources that are getting information out in a fast, piecemeal and frequently inaccurate way. That process has its own appeal and its own valuable purpose. But The Times should be its authoritative and accurate counterbalance.

Biggest Hit on 'Zero Dark Dirty' Yet

So I guess early critics like Glenn Greenwald and yours truly were not nuts after all.  The chorus of criticism of Zero Dark Thirty has grown this week to include many more in the media, three top U.S. Senators and now acting CIA chief Michael Morrell
In a message sent Friday to agency employees about the film, “Zero Dark Thirty,” Mr. Morell said it “creates the strong impression that the enhanced interrogation techniques that were part of our former detention and interrogation program were the key to finding Bin Laden. That impression is false.”
In fact, he said, “the truth is that multiple streams of intelligence led C.I.A. analysts to conclude that Bin Laden was hiding in Abbottabad,” the city in Pakistan where a Navy SEAL team killed him in May 2011. “Some came from detainees subjected to enhanced techniques,” Mr. Morell wrote, using the C.I.A.’s euphemism for harsh and sometimes brutal treatment that included waterboarding. “But there were many other sources as well.”

Friday, December 21, 2012

More Love for Christmas

The great Darlene Love making her annual Letterman appearance tonight to do the annual Christmas song.  Here's great one from last year:

So Long, Merry Man (For now)

Leonard Cohen wrapped up his American/Canadian tour, and 2012, with shows at packed arenas in New York and Brooklyn this week--see my old Crawdaddy colleague Jon Pareles' rave in the Saturday NYT--but if you missed, this site has selected the best live videos of each song on his set list.   Here's just one--and below that, a bonus from 1979, Leonard and Jennifer Warnes duets on "Silent Night."

He Put the 'Mass' in Christmas

Woody Guthrie sings his "Jesus Christ."  You'll find a rocking U2 version on YouTube.

Billy Bragg, Former Angry Young Man, Turns 55

Gulp,  Billy turned 55 yesterday.  Fantastic recent  concert performance of Woody's "I Ain't Go Home."

New Mass Shooting in Pennsylvania

As Wayne LaPierre was about to speak today, against any new gun controls and for weaponizing every school, there was another mass killing by firearms in PA--three men and one woman, plus three state troopers injured.  Here's first report, and update here.  Shootings took place along several miles 70 miles west of Harrisburg.   Another update:  woman was killed at a church. Shooter, IDed as Jeffrey Michael,  dead.  Further update: two men were shot and killed in driveway of home.

NYT just now:  "The armed man, who has not been identified, fatally shot a woman in the church’s fellowship hall, where she had been decorating for a children’s Christmas party, said Philip McCaulley, the son of the chuch’s preacher. The woman, whose identity has not been released by the authorities, was in her 50s, said Mr. McCaulley."

Three days ago:  man kills two, shoots two others, execution-style at chicken processing plant in CA., then offs himself. 

Wayne LaPierre's Favorite Flick?

Arnold IS "Kindergarten Cop."

Get Yer Bullet Proof Backpack While Supplies Last!

We covered this before nearly anyone a few days back--sales of backpacks with ballistic shields aimed at school kids.  There's even a Disney version.  One company (see below) touted on their site that they were made by folksy L.L. Bean and when we reported that the Beaners had a fit and demanded that they drop that, since not true.  And they did.  Here's new video:


NRA Presser: Guns in Every School Now

NRA's Wayne LaPierre presser just now, as it happened:  Starts by ripping America for not protecting schools with guns and armed security.  Notes we protect banks, president.   "We as a society leave our children ultimately defenseless and the monsters and predators of the world exploit it.  That must change now."

Someone then puts up big red sign in front of him "NRA KILLING OUR KIDS."  Then protestor shouts for 60 seconds as pulled out.

Then LaPierre hits criminals spreading like cancer across our communities--as federal gun prosecutions have decreased by 40%.  So violent crime is increasing again.   Also blames hurricanes somehow.  And "another dirty truth the media seeks to conceal."  That is, a shadowy network that sows violence:  Video games.  And music videos.  People in "corporate media" are "co-conspriators."   Instead media hit gun owners. 

Then woman jumps up with big sign, "NRA Has Bloods on Its Hands."  And shouts "Ban Assault Weapons Now." LaPierre stays calm. Then hits media for getting some facts wrong on weapons and ammo.

Then on to brave teachers unable to stop Newtown massacre though tried.  "The only way to stop a monster from hurting our kids is to get personally involved...The only thing that will stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. .. Would you rather have your 911 call bring good guy with gun from a mile away or a minute away?"

Says media will spin as NRA insanely calling for more guns. "Since when has a gun become a bad word?  Why bad when gun used to protect our police or our president but not to protect our kids in school?" Basically calls for guns in every school.   Hits the "press and political class" again--so "consumed with hatred of NRA and gun owner" that leaves school principal unarmed when tries to shield children.   "No one has the right to impose that sacrifice."

Then hits Obama for cutting some funds for school protection.  Says former police, military, more could join with local schools and police to protect every school to "immediately make schools safer."   No funds but "could be deployed right now."   Calls on Congress to provide funds for armed security to be in place in every school in January.  NRA has 11,000 trainers to help (for a  healthy fee, one presumes).   Former Sen. Asa Hutchinson to lead NRA model school shield protection program.  Calls on parents to demand this.

Offers NO plans for new gun policies.  Then introduces Hutchinson to describe program.  MSNBC host Thomas Roberts calls it one of most bizarre presser he's ever heard.  Michael Steele comes on, says he supports NRA, but finds "disturbing" we are calling for arming schools, a giant missed opportunity and public won't back.   Not even what rank and file NRA members want, he says.  Then Beau Biden slams.  Yes, improve police training but assault weapons need more restrictions.  Richard W. Painter, a professor who served in the Bush White House, calls the NRA  "a protection racket."

Buzzfeed collects ten things LaPierre blamed instead of guns.  Full video now.




Polls on Guns A Mixed Bag

I've reported results of post-Sandy Hook polls this week from CNN and CBS, and now there's a new one from Pew.  All are collected here.  Too much to summarize here, but:They all show some, or a lot, of growing (if maybe temporary) support for new gun measures but the Pew one particularly also reveals dug in attitudes.  Consistently folks by vast margins want background checks on all gun purchases and are probably unaware that 40% of guns now sold without them.  If they now do know that--will they clamor for a quick change in laws?

Pew finds that a majority still oppose a ban on semi-automatic gun, so what is hope for big change on that?  Most don't think government can do much to stop massacres in this country.   And so on.  Some results heartening, others depressing.

If you are wondering, in one poll 15% call for total ban on guns, and in Pew some 28% want ban at least on handguns. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Kids Shot, Thursday Night Edition

Some of you may know that every night this week I have reporting cases of kids shot and killed across the USA in the past 24 hours--or, just a few of them, gathered in about five minutes of limited web searching.  You can catch up here if you can stomach it.  Now here's tonight's grim (partial) accounting (more to come):

Breaking tonight:  two--year-old boy found shot in Harrison, Tenn., possibly by accident. 

Boy 17, shot to death by friend near Houston after argument over sneakers.  Boy, 16, shot and killed in backyard of his home in Augusta, Ga.

Boy, 15, shot in back in Miami, may not make it.   Teen of same age shot while sitting on park bench in Stockton, Ca.   Boy, 14, killed in home near Atlanta.

A 7-year-old North Carolina girl was hit in the leg  by a stray bullet at a roller skating rink.   Two teens in Pilsen, Ill., hit by stray bullets on the street. 

Pellet gun shoots out windows on two school buses (one carrying very young kids)  in Haverhill, Mass., glass goes flying, no serious injuries.

This happened a month ago but Miami Herald updates today--girl, 13, shot and killed on bus after kid steals parent's gun at home. 


When Love Is Real: 'Not Fade Away'

Glad to see very favorable review of the new David Chase rock and roll film Not Fade Away for tomorrow's NYT by Stephen Holden.  My son worked on set a bit.  I haven't see it but sounds good, tracing arc for kids and parents (including Chase man James Gandolfini) from arrival of the Beatles to the Sex Pistols.  Here's the trailer:


Woodward and Bernstein Team Up Again

Well, in a way: Carl at The Guardian today writes about old partner Bob's scoop on the tapes seeming to reveal Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch trying to recruit Gen. David Petraeus to run for president this time around (if he could quit playing footsie with a certain writer).  Not a new story, right? But Carl has a strong take on it. 
The tape that Bob Woodward obtained, and which the Washington Post ran in the style section, should be the denouement of the Murdoch story on both sides of the Atlantic, making clear that no institution, not even the presidency of the United States, was beyond the object of his subversion. If Murdoch had bankrolled a successful Petraeus presidential campaign and – as his emissary McFarland promised – "the rest of us [at Fox] are going to be your in-house" – Murdoch arguably might have sewn up the institutions of American democracy even more securely than his British tailoring.

Graham Parker Meets Judd Apatow

Graham Parker, who I was friendly with back in the mid-'70s--after Crawdaddy wrote first big review and piece about him--is happily about to enjoy a nice comeback, thanks to key role in new Judd Apatow flick  (playing a old rocker trying to make comeback) opening tomorrow.   He's now reunited his great band from back in the day, The Rumour.  Graham was the angry young punk/pub-rocker before Elvis Costello and The Clash came along. He presently lives not far from me in the Hudson Valley, USA.  One of his earliest classics:




Better to Burn Out Than Fade Away?

In the catetgory of Tell Us Something We Don't Know: A new study out of Liverpool (or all places) finds that rock stars more likely to die young than you or me!  Fancy that!  But at least it's been quantified, in study of nearly 1500 rockers from 1956 to 2006.   Oddly, the NYT, with so many stiffs to choose from, illustrates its story with Mick "Still a Dancing Fool" Jagger.  

In one detail, the study found that rockers with solo careers die sooner than those in groups, which makes perfect sense as they would tend to be more famous and have more money and drugs.  Also:  a large number had troubled childhoods.  Finally: those who became stars after 1980 have a better survival, also quite obvious (think of say, super healthy Sting vs. a Jimbo Morrison).   So let's recall one of my faves, Gram Parsons, who went all the way, even with his body burned.

From Olympian to Escort

UPDATENYT picks up the story tonight, leading with Hamilton claiming she got into this because of "depression."  Concludes: “I’m owning up to what I did,” Favor Hamilton said. “I would not blame anybody except myself. Everybody in this world makes mistakes. I made a huge mistake. Huge.”

Earlier:  Don't link to The Smoking Gun often here, but their scoop today on former three-time U.S. Olympian Suzy Favor Hamilton admitting to a new career as a Las Vegas escort/call girl brought back a couple of memories (no, not involving hookers). 

Hamilton is known (until now) to some for intentionally falling on the track at the 2000 Olympics when it was clear she was not going to win the 1500 finals.  But I recall her more vividly as the young woman in one of the most horrid and controversial commercials ever shown on U.S. television.  The Nike spot, a dozen years ago, showed her being chased out of her house in the dark woods-- stripped to her bra--by a maniac with a chain saw.  Running through the woods, she finally outdistances him thanks to her Nikes.  Protests centered on exploitation of violence against women (especially one half-naked) and it was soon pulled.  Watch if you can handle it:

This Queen Didn't Lose Her Head, At Least

Terrrific doc, which is showing up on many Ten Best lists for the year, The Queen of Versailles, now free on Netflix.   Much dark humor in collapse of a rich family's fortunes (the wretched excess, dogs poop on the floor, a lizard dies and no one notices, and so on) but also a true depiction of economic plunge since 2008, on the 1% but also average workers and "the help."  The "queen" is a piece of work--literally--with her fake books and Botox and more.  Plus:  the hubby of the "queen" is David Siegel who claims he got Bush elected in 2000 illegally--and then drew attention this year with letters to employees almost ordering them to vote against Obama.  Trailer:


Senators Spark New Furor Over 'Zero Dark Thirty'

UPDATE #2  Typically terrific Amy Davidson piece at The New Yorker on the senators' protest.  She is right to be concerned about requests for changes in Hollywood movies but also points out to the essential wrongness of the movie and hypocrisy of filmmakers in wanting in both way--based on true events but fictional in key points.    

Earlier today, David Sirota at Salon focused on a troubling issue (mentioned in the senators' letter) of CIA and Pentagon now in trouble for assisting Bigelow in making the film.  The question: Did they slant their fiction to curry favor?  Did the CIA and military demand that?  Remember, they withdraw support eventually from her previous film, The Hurt Locker.


UPDATE #1 Three U.S. Senators have just "lambasted" Bigelow for the inaccuracies and one of her film.  McCain, Levin and Feinstein (all involved on the torture issue) say say the movie is “factually inaccurate” and “has the potential to shape American public opinion in a disturbing and misleading manner.” Their letter, the NYT notes,  asks Sony Pictures to “consider correcting the impression that the C.I.A.’s use of coercive interrogation techniques led to the operation” against Bin Laden.

Earlier:   Major takedown of Bigelow and her film, from the estimable Jane Mayer, a true expert on all this, at The New Yorker.  Not your average reviewer or pundit or blogger.  She "milks the U.S. torture program for drama while sidestepping the political and ethical debate that it provoked. In her hands, the hunt for bin Laden is essentially a police procedural, devoid of moral context. If she were making a film about slavery in antebellum America, it seems, the story would focus on whether the cotton crops were successful."
I’ve seen the film and, as much as I admired Bigelow’s Oscar-winning picture “The Hurt Locker,” I think that this time, by ignoring the full weight of the dark history of torture, her work falls disturbingly short. To begin with, despite Boal’s contentions, “Zero Dark Thirty” does not capture the complexity of the debate about America’s brutal detention program. It doesn’t include a single scene in which torture is questioned, even though the Bush years were racked by internal strife over just that issue—again, not just among human-rights and civil-liberties lawyers, but inside the F.B.I., the military, the Justice Department, and the C.I.A. itself, which eventually abandoned waterboarding because it feared, correctly, that the act constituted a war crime. None of this ethical drama seems to interest Bigelow.
Much of this echoes, but also goes beyond, my piece on the film.

Passing of Joe Strummer, Ten Years On

How London TV covered sudden death of Joe Strummer, ten years ago this Saturday.  Plus Bob Geldof comment.

Assange Movies Finally On the Way

Major NYT today on whatever happened to all those movie deals for articles and books on WikiLeaks early on.  We learn that Alex Gibney doc is coming to Sundance, show "empathy" for Bradley Manning, hits NYT treatment of Assange,  but disputes notion that Swedish sex case is tied to U.S. prosecution.  Also, Gibney hoping for separate flick on Manning.  Other projects still in the works,  although it looks like Mark Boal is now begging off doing screenplay--has even asked former NYT editor Bill Keller if he'd like to write it.

If you're interested, though never bought for the screen, I wrote the first two books on WikiLeaks and Manning, and collaborated with Kevin Gosztola on another.

The Sandy Hook Movie Conspiracy! Really!

Yes, there must be a conspiracy behind everything these days--okay, blame it on the '60s with the JFK assassination and Paul Is Dead--but this one (below) takes the cake.  (Note:  Paul apparently still alive, 44 years later.)   The Sandy Hook shootings were "staged."  Oh sure.  Now, if you want to consider my book on a real "cover-up."  Or this: an actual "conspiracy" to keep a popular candidate from taking office.

Alas, to quote from wacky email sent to me today, apparently lifting an Infowars article:

"Bizarre evidence that the Sandy Hook massacre in Connecticut may have been staged has surfaced in the form of YouTube videos which point out the words 'Sandy Hook' were written on a map that appeared in the most recent Dark Knight movie, a startling revelation given the deluge of mysterious coincidences already plaguing the movie."

According to numerous YouTube videos, a scene appears in which Commissioner Gordon points at a Gotham City map and confusingly, directly to the words “Sandy Hook.” At least one user who tried to upload a similar video pointing out this curious coincidence had it strangely removed.

Another YouTube video asserts that the word “Aurora” also appeared in the movie, further fanning the flames of conspiracy swirling about the movie...

Another shocking coincidence came in the form of a Lil Wayne music video that absurdly featured skeletons in a movie theater. The video was released just days before the Aurora massacre took place.

As more of these “strange coincidences” continue to pop up, it would take a fool not to question the motive behind it all: Is this all part of an evil pre-conditioning program?  This definitely begins to tread into Satanic and occult territory, the purpose of which is known to only a select few in tight-knit circles at the very top branches of various secret societies.
Update here.

Greg Mitchell writes daily for The Nation and has written over a dozen books on subjects including influential political campaigns, atomic cover-ups, WikiLeaks and Bradley Manning, the death penalty in America, even Beethoven, and more--see books here or on rail at right on this blog.  

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Movie Gunplay (In Real Life)

A 7th grade tudent a class trip to see the new movie The Hobbit in Tillamook, Ore., found a loaded pistol on the floor of the movie theater (see left).  "The unidentified Tillamook Junior High School student who found the weapon informed an adult who was with the class. The semi-automatic handgun was loaded and had the safety switched off, according to the Tillamook Headlight Herald newspaper."

After police searched the theater, the movie resumed.  No biggie in fortress America.  (h/t )

UPDATE   Owner of gun showed up to claim it later.
On Wednesday evening, Gary Quackenbush, 61, turned up at the theater seeking his missing gun, "like it would be in the lost and found with lost eyeglasses and other things," said Long.
"He has a concealed handgun license," Long said. "That will be revoked tonight. The law says if you are a danger to yourself or the public, it can be revoked."
A man answering a phone number listed for Quackenbush laughed and told a reporter, "Get a life."

More Kids Shot

I've been charting here the shooting of kids around the USA since Newtown, and collected many of them in my piece at The Nation today.  Here's tonight's roundup on shooting just in past day--gathered in five minutes of quick and random googling (also see my post on student finding loaded handgun on floor of theater showing The Hobbit).

In Sioux Falls, S.D., a 16-year-old shot and killed--with a semi-automatic shotgun-- a friend after an argument over paintball.

Tonight comes word that a girl in Memphis, age 2, got struck by a stray bullet from a gunfight outside and is now in critical condition. 
Police say two men had been shooting at each other outside in the parking lot of the Clementine Apartments. Bullets flying everywhere.
“I heard bullets passing, flying in my home,” said Markita Freeman, who lives right next door to the toddler.  ”I heard them flying across my bedroom.”  One of them lodged in a little girl, in her home, just watching TV.
Meanwhile, in Maryland, another two-year-old shot--was being held by man who was gunned down and killed.   This afternoon:  teen shot in chest by another teen in Frederick, Md.  A four-year-old shot in head in Jacksonville outside his home.  A boy, 11, shot and killed in Puerto Rico.

In Atlanta area, a boy, 14, killed during robbery at his home.  Two teen girls wounded in Chicago drive-by.   Youth in Stockton, Ca., shoots girlfriend accidentally, he claims (she'll survive).

Greg Mitchell is the author of more than a dozen books on politics, history, nuclear issues, capital punishment and media. His latest, on the Obama-Romney battle, is Tricks, Lies, and Videotape.

GOP: All Ferrets in Love and War

Gail Collins in her Thursday column probes John Boehner's "Plan B"--which sounds like a dental plan, she notes--and claims it only saved Obama from ever more outrage from the left (for now) because he rejected the president's cave-in on Social Security and moving his taxes on rich upwards. 
At least the president made a serious offer while Boehner put up ... Plan B. Which does virtually nothing but continue the Bush tax cuts for those making less than $1 million a year. Everything else goes over the cliff. Laid-off workers getting extended unemployment benefits. Doctors treating Medicare patients.
Honestly, it sounded like something that Eric Cantor typed up on his smartphone on the way over from his office.
Nick Kristof's Thursday column replies to critics of his earlier piece calling for crackdown on guns.

Man Arrested at a Sandy Hook Elementary

Unreal.  A Virginia man, 33, has been arrested at a school with same name as  the site of the massacre, in the halls, carrying a 2 by 4 labeled with the word "high-powered rifle."   He was "met by school staff, then detained by a sheriff’s school resource officer. He was arrested and taken into custody without incident.  No one was injured."   More here and photo of the dude.  He may have been trying to show that school security was lax.

Another Poll Finds Rise in Gun Control Views

First ABC, then CBS, now CNN/ORC polls have found a signfiicant rise in the number of Americans calling for stricter gun laws in the wake of the Newtown slaughter.  More than 50% in all polls now display this, with much higher figures backing specific proposals, such as (again) banning assault rifles.

A couple of points on the CNN poll.  I find it interesting that at least 8 in 10 support background checks--and I bet many of them are unaware that currently 40% of guns get sold without that.  Also interesting that most favor a new limit on the NUMBER of guns anyone can own--a great idea that is never discussed, as far as I know.

By the way, in case you ever wondered how many support a total ban on gun ownership beyond police:  it's 15% in this poll.  

MoveOn vs. Obama on Social Security Cuts

The group has just sent out urgent email to supporters/members asking them on whether the org should fight the president hard on proposed cuts.  Here's excerpt:

As part of the ongoing fiscal negotiations in Washington, President Obama has offered a massive concession to Republicans: A deal that would slash Social Security benefits by $112 billion over the next decade. And we have to make a decision right now about what to do.  According to the AARP, "A typical 80-year-old woman will lose the equivalent of 3 months worth of food annually" under this plan.1

This is a bad deal for current retirees. And it'll hit future retirees even harder, because the proposal cuts Social Security more and more with each passing year. After 10 years, benefits would be cut by about $500 a year for the average retiree. After 20 years, benefits would be cut by about $1,000 a year. And beyond that, it just gets worse.2

But here's the good news: There's still time to block this deal. The U.S. Senate is full of Social Security champions.3 And Social Security is central to the Democratic Party's legacy.

Still, just like standing up to the President isn't easy for MoveOn members, it isn't easy for Democratic senators. But if Social Security champions who are rejecting this plan in the Senate know we've got their backs, we have a chance to push President Obama to do the right thing.

So we have a decision to make right now: Should MoveOn keep standing with champions of Social Security and make a big final push to oppose any cuts? 

Brooks Goes Dry on Guns

Classic David Brooks in his weekly online "debate" with colleague Gail Collins at NYT site.  He claims he supports many of the new proposed crackdowns on guns and ammo, then time after time explains that they won't work anyway, citing studies and whatnot.  Of course, as he knows, that undermines any effort to make progress. So he has our cake, and eats it, too.   Gail does push back a bit.

Obama Promises New Gun Agenda

President Obama, with the vice-president by his side, just spoke in D.C. on promises for a  new policy agenda "to try" to do something about gun violence.  Said "it's encouraging" that a broad range of people are willing to "reconsider" views but now we need "action."  Need to make access to mental health care as easy as access to guns, and look at "culture" that "glorifies" violence.  Fact that we can't prevent every act of violence doesn't mean we can't try  to stop a lot.

Announces naming of the new panel headed by Joe Biden to study new proposals to pull together "real reforms, right now" and report back quickly--in January.  Says "consensus" building--majority of Americans support background checks for all gun purchases, banning assault weapons and some ammo. 

Reiterates that he believes in 2nd Amendment and notes country has long tradition of hunting, and "regional differences." Most gun owners  responsibie and he is betting that "the vast majority"of gun owners believe that high-capacity weapons should not be in hands of people and that unbalanced people should not have access to weapons.

Then lists a few people killed across USA in recent days.  Cannot accept this violence as "routine."  He will use every power to office to further steps to halt as much as possible.  Requires the help of the American people, "all of you."  Needs "a wave of Americans," including gun owners to "stand up and say enough, on behalf of our kids." Will require "courage" but we just need to summon "one iota" of the courage shown by those teachers in Newtown.  But does not put forward any specific proposals today.

Then opened questions to press--and naturally the first one had nothing to do with what he just said.  Asked about concerns that he is cutting Social Security, he danced around it while admitting--very telling--that he had met Rep. Boehner "more than halfway."  Much later, a question comes on why he thinks he can get anything past NRA and Congress after so much failure on gun laws.  He answers that he has more faith in American public than those who say outrage will fade quickly.  Also: NRA has many members "who are mothers and fathers."  Also:  He does not believe that the 2nd Amendment means anything goes on guns.

Jake Tapper closes by pointing out that he promised action on guns in 2008 but has done nothing, so "where have you been?"  Obama points to how he's been busy on other issues as president but this "is a wake up call for all of us"  and need to re-examine priorities.   Now gun control "has to be a central issue." 

Eagle Eyed

UPDATE #2  Okay, as many hinted, that school in Montreal that hosts annual "hoax" contest has admitted that this was the work of three clever students in the 3D/Animation department.

Earlier:  If you missed, this video went viral late last night--showing a huge Golden Eagle snatching a tiny kid off the ground in a park in Montreal (the caption says) and attempting to carry him/her off.  Happy ending:  Looks like the bird nearly did it but the kid probably proved a little too heavy.  But a nice warning for parents everywhere.   Update #1:  Some, such as at Storyful,  claiming this is a fake though hard to see how they pulled that off. Here's a news report but based on just one person dissecting it.  Now other sites are rounding up reasons it's a fake.  That may very well be true but most of the objections very spotty.  I understand the Today Show aired. Stay tuned.

Fresno Boy, Shot to Death, Donates Heart to Girl

Just another random murder of a kid, in this case, age 12, this time in Fresno, but with this twist--the boy's heart went to save a little girl's life.  Meanwhile, his family holding fundraisers to pay for burial costs.  And a boy, age 4,  was struck in the head in Jacksonville last night in a drive-by shooting.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Man Guns Down Teens in Minnesota

One of the most bizarre shooting cases I've read in awhile comes out of Minnesota where a man, 64, shot, over and over, and then taunted two teens--a boy, 17, and girl, 18-- who were breaking into his home.  He then kept watch over their bodies for 24 hours.  Even though it was part of a possible robbery, he has been charged with two counts of murder.  It seems that he had been waiting for them, with mulitple weapons and a surveillance system, in a kind of "ambush."  This system also caught his taunts as he continued to plug them.  His later descriptions of his various shots were full of lingo used by those who hunt animals.

From Toronto Street to Madison Sq Garden

As I type, Leonard Cohen is coming out to greeted rapturously by a sold-out crowd in Madison Square Garden.  Same scene coming in two days at Brooklyn's new Barclay's Center.  And that's the way it's been for a few years now.  Selling out arenas.  Doing three-hour shows.  Who'd a thunk, just six years ago, with Leonard seemingly in semi-retirement, after years in a Zen monastery and his former manager having run off with much of his dough.  But here's a turning point:  When thousands gathered for one of his bookstore signings in Toronto he joined some of the Barenaked Ladies and Ron Sexsmith, and then-girlfriend Adjani, on a nearby stage and got coaxed into singing "So Long Marianne."  It seemed then it might be last live performance ever.   But Leonard was slowly discovering that he still had an audience out there, which he had come to doubt.  Now, just in recent months, a terrific bio of Cohen and a new book about his song "Hallelujah."

Here's one of my favorite vids, of that Toronto street  "Marianne."

Don't Nix Pix

About two weeks ago, I finally launched a blog or section here at Pressing Issues for some of my photographs from the past few years--loading one a day.  Here's today's pick (with full gallery here):  The second floor room, in an inn in Auvers, where Van Gogh died, after shooting himself up the hill. 

Nuts to You

As expected--in these times, with these people--gun sales apparently surged following the Newtown massacre, as gun nuts move to make sure they have enough dozens at home before Obama or Michael Moore or Piers Morgan cuts off the pipeline.  Records sales in some cities (I reported a new mark in Portland a couple of days backs)  and long lines at gun shows--love that lack of background checks there!
Gun owners aren't just afraid of losing their right to buy certain guns. Jeff Serdy, owner of AJI Sporting Goods in Apache Junction, Ariz., said his buyers were buying ammunition.
"I am selling a ton of ammunition," Serdy said. "My people figure it is easier for the president to ban ammunition sales than to get a gun bill through Congress."

The Asperger's Syndrome

Many have beren troubled by early and repeated references to Adam Lanza and his alleged "developmental" problems, often specifically mentioning Asperger's or autism.   That  may well turn out to be the case but the way it has been slipped into stories often--though certainly not always--suggests that this might partly explain why he acted the way he did.

Now the NYT's very diligent public editor Margaret Sullivan looks at the Times' record on this, finds some issues and gets some response.  Read it all.  "These are questions of clarity and accuracy — and those affect everyone. But more optimistically, there is now an opportunity to do some educating. I hope that happens."

Just Re-name It, 'Social Insecurity'

The great Charles P. Pierce nails it, of course.
Quite honestly, the president's willingness to tinker this way with Social Security marks his presidency in a way that nothing else ever will. There is no economic need to do this to Social Security at all. There is no need for the program even to come up in the discussions. This locks Social Security forever into being defined for all political purposes as an "entitlement," and we all know that "entitlements" need to be reformed because everybody this president considers his primary constituencies say they must. It sets the stage for more concessions down the line by any Democratic president who doesn't possess the political momentum that the current president seems hellbent on squandering. This is that most horrible of Beltway concoctions — a deal for a deal's sake, a demonstration for the courtier press that Washington "works." (Chris Matthews last night said that he wanted a cliff-avoiding deal so that "Washington" could prove it can work again. He framed it around the events in Connecticut and gn control. These people think ... strangely.)  
If John Boehner brings home this deal, his caucus should name him emperor. If that caucus turns him down, they all should be placed in a locked ward for the duration of the president's second term. Meanwhile, David Gregory just had an orgasm you could hear on Mars.

\

4 Dead in Colorado, Including Kid

News out of Denver this morning, with a murder/suicide taking four lives, including a person described only as a "child." See house decorated with Christmas lights.  Another story describes this as a "quiet" community--except for the hunters firing off rounds "at a nearby field."
Before the bodies were found, police received a 911 call from a female at the address.
The dispatcher heard "No, no, no" and then gunshots in the background of the call, KUSA reported.
Later, a man got on the phone and threatened to kill himself. The dispatcher then heard more gunshots.
Also overnight, three shot and teen killed in Cincinnati.

Full chart from Wash Post on gun ownership and gun deaths for nearly every country.  Note: only homicides, seems not to include accidental deaths and suicides (huge number in USA). 

Nate the Great on Guns

UPDATE:  Out magazine picks Nate as its Person of the Year. "His forecasts for the 2012 election became the talk of the chattering classes. Now that he's vanquished his critics, what's next for the braniac?"

Earlier:  The election may be over, but Nate Silver is still crunching numbers at the NYT, now re: gun ownership in the U.S.  And, presto, it's pretty interesting.   For example, as expected, more GOPers than Dems have a gun in their home, but the gap is ever-widening.  From 1973 until 2010, the GOPer rate slipped slightly from 55% to 50%, while for Dems it plunged from 45% to 22%.    The gender gap is much smaller, with a survey of 2008 voters finding 48% of men and 37% of women owned guns.

And: "The majority of children to Republican-voting parents had a gun somewhere in their homes, while only about one in four children in Democratic-voting households did."

Monday, December 17, 2012

Aretha Comments on 'Cliff' Deal

Reported Obama compromise on "chained CPI" for Social Security cuts--a "Chain of Fools."

Don't Blame Gun Violence on Mental Illness

That's the theme of an op-ed for the Tuesday NYT and is much welcome.  Dr. Richard A. Friedman points to study showing that only 4% of violent crimes committed by those with mental illness--and that far, far more trouble caused by those high on drink or drugs. 
It’s possible that preventing people with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and other serious mental illnesses from getting guns might decrease the risk of mass killings. Even the Supreme Court, which in 2008 strongly affirmed a broad right to bear arms, at the same time endorsed prohibitions on gun ownership “by felons and the mentally ill.”
But mass killings are very rare events, and because people with mentally illness contribute so little to overall violence, these measures would have little impact on everyday firearm-related killings. Consider that between 2001 and 2010, there were nearly 120,000 gun-related homicides, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Few were perpetrated by people with mental illness.

Polls, For Now, Show Surge in Gun Control Sentiment

Not sure how much faith to put in this, so soon after a massacre of kids, but first an ABC poll this morning, and just now a CBS poll, put backing for stricter gun laws at new highs in recent years (ABC: 5 years, CBS: 10 years).  The CBS one finds an 18% pickup since spring, to 57%.  In contrast, after the shooting of Gabby Gifford, it was just 47%.

A lot of expected details:  support highest in Northeast and West Coast, lowest in Midwest and South, Dem much more likely(by 2-1) to back than GOPers.

The ABC, while showing some gains, still found that 44% continue to oppose new controls on automatic weapons.