B12 Solipsism

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Archive for the ‘NRA’ tag

Artist Anish Kapoor disgusted that The Bean appears in NRA ad

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Contemplation of the Winter Bean
Contemplation of the Winter Bean

As are many urban dwellers, especially those who live in and around Chicago, and who aren’t afraid of walking down the street. No matter what you might have heard, walking down the street in an American city like Chicago isn’t akin to being in a war zone. It just isn’t.

The artist who made Chicago’s iconic Cloud Gate says he is “disgusted” that the National Rifle Association used video of the Millennium Park sculpture in a political advertisement that he said “seeks to whip up fear and hate.

Anish Kapoor — the Indian-born, British sculptor responsible for the work colloquially known as The Bean — said the 2017 ad titled “The Clenched Fist of Truth” and starring NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch used footage of the sculpture without his consent “by the NRA to promote their vile message.”

The sculpture was used as a stand-in for former President Barack Obama in the ad, which was widely criticized at the time of its release in April. The ad paints a nightmarish vision of modern city life and states that “the only way to save our country, the only way to fight this violence of lies is with the clenched fist of truth.”

In a statement issued by a New York gallery 1 that represents him, Kapoor also said that his sculpture and other works of iconic modern architecture were used by the NRA in the ad to represent a hidden and threatening “other,” or a version of “Liberal America” against which NRA members need to arm themselves.

While tourists are free to photograph the sculpture, Kapoor owns the copyright to commercial images of Cloud Gate and did not give the NRA permission to use it, he wrote.

(click here to continue reading Artist Anish Kapoor ‘disgusted’ that The Bean appears in NRA ad – Chicago Tribune.)

I’m not linking to the NRA’s hate site, but you can find the video if you search for it. I’d rather post a few more photos of Cloud Gate… ((taken as a tourist, naturally)) 

Cleaning Cloud Gate
Cleaning Cloud Gate

Sometimes I am a Tourist
Sometimes I am a Tourist

Millennium abstraction
millennium abstraction

Smiley Face Snow Bean
Smiley Face Snow Bean

Shiny objects
Shiny objects

Urban Bubble
Urban Bubble

Bean and Ice
Bean and Ice

  1. presumedly Lisson Gallery []

Written by Seth Anderson

March 12th, 2018 at 3:38 pm

Posted in Arts,Chicago-esque,politics

Tagged with ,

The Case of Russian Gun Lovers, the NRA, and Donald Trump

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It Might Rain Money It Might Rain Fire
It Might Rain Money It Might Rain Fire

The NRA has been receiving sketchy money from unknowable sources, like Russia, ever since the Citizens United decision opened up the dark money spigots. Did some of that Russian money work its way into the Trump 2016 campaign? Probably, and no doubt Mueller is investigating, but we don’t know for certain. Did some Russian money also end up in other Republican coffers? Probably. Traitors. Send them to Gitmo…

Peter Stone and Greg Gordon of McClatchy first reported a few months ago:

The FBI is investigating whether a top Russian banker with ties to the Kremlin illegally funneled money to the National Rifle Association to help Donald Trump win the presidency, two sources familiar with the matter have told McClatchy.

FBI counterintelligence investigators have focused on the activities of Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank who is known for his close relationships with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and the NRA, the sources said.

It is illegal to use foreign money to influence federal elections.

It’s unclear how long the Torshin inquiry has been ongoing, but the news comes as Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s sweeping investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, including whether the Kremlin colluded with Trump’s campaign, has been heating up.

However, the NRA reported spending a record $55 million on the 2016 elections, including $30 million to support Trump – triple what the group devoted to backing Republican Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential race. Most of that was money was spent by an arm of the NRA that is not required to disclose its donors.

Two people with close connections to the powerful gun lobby said its total election spending actually approached or exceeded $70 million. The reporting gap could be explained by the fact that independent groups are not required to reveal how much they spend on Internet ads or field operations, including get-out-the-vote efforts.


(click here to continue reading FBI investigating whether Russia funneled cash to NRA to aid Trump’s campaign | McClatchy Washington Bureau.)

Strange. In our lifetimes, Republicans have gone from being pro-law enforcement, and anti-Russia to the exact opposite. Power corrupts, as the cliché goes.

First Stop Guns
First Stop Guns

Continuing to explore the subject, Denise Clifton and Mark Follman write in Mother Jones:

For more than a year now, reports have trickled out about deepening ties among prominent members of the National Rifle Association, conservative Republicans, a budding gun-rights movement in Russia—and their convergence in the Trump campaign.

Now attention is focused around a middle-aged Russian central bank official and a photogenic young gun activist from Siberia who share several passions: posing with assault rifles, making connections with Republican presidential candidates, and publicizing their travels between Moscow and America on social media. Alexander Torshin and his protégé Maria Butina also share an extraordinary status with America’s largest gun lobbying group, according to Torshin: “Today in NRA (USA) I know only 2 people from the Russian Federation with the status of ‘Life Member’: Maria Butina and I,” he tweeted the day after Donald Trump was elected president.

Of particular interest are their overtures to Trump. Butina asked him straight-up at a campaign event about the future of “damaging” sanctions against Russia. Torshin twice tried to meet with Trump, according to the New York Times, and did meet with Donald Trump Jr. at an NRA event. Meanwhile, the House Intelligence Committee has heard sworn testimony about possible Kremlin “infiltration” of the NRA and other conservative groups. And the FBI reportedly is investigating whether Torshin illegally funneled money to the Trump campaign through the NRA—which backed Trump with a record $30 million.

(click here to continue reading The Very Strange Case of Two Russian Gun Lovers, the NRA, and Donald Trump – Mother Jones.)

A bit more background:


A conservative operative trumpeting his close ties to the National Rifle Association and Russia told a Trump campaign adviser last year that he could arrange a back-channel meeting between Donald J. Trump and Vladimir V. Putin, the Russian president, according to an email sent to the Trump campaign.


A May 2016 email to the campaign adviser, Rick Dearborn, bore the subject line “Kremlin Connection.” In it, the N.R.A. member said he wanted the advice of Mr. Dearborn and Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, then a foreign policy adviser to Mr. Trump and Mr. Dearborn’s longtime boss, about how to proceed in connecting the two leaders.


Russia, he wrote, was “quietly but actively seeking a dialogue with the U.S.” and would attempt to use the N.R.A.’s annual convention in Louisville, Ky., to make “ ‘first contact.’ ” The email, which was among a trove of campaign-related documents turned over to investigators on Capitol Hill, was described in detail to The New York Times.



(click here to continue reading Operative Offered Trump Campaign ‘Kremlin Connection’ Using N.R.A. Ties – The New York Times.)

Killing People Is Rude
Killing People Is Rude

and NPR earlier this month:


A prominent Kremlin-linked Russian politician has methodically cultivated ties with leaders of the National Rifle Association and documented efforts in real time over six years to leverage those connections and gain deeper access into American politics, NPR has learned.

 Russian politician Alexander Torshin said his ties to the NRA provided him access to Donald Trump — and the opportunity to serve as a foreign election observer in the United States during the 2012 election.

 Torshin is a prolific Twitter user, logging nearly 150,000 tweets, mostly in Russian, since his account was created in 2011. Previously obscured by language and sheer volume of tweets, Torshin has written numerous times about his connections with the NRA, of which he is a known paid lifetime member. NPR has translated a selection of those posts that document Torshin’s relationship to the group.

 These revelations come amid news that the FBI is investigating whether Torshin, the deputy governor of the Bank of Russia, illegally funneled money to the NRA to assist the Trump campaign in 2016.

Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, told NPR this week that the committee’s members have asked relevant witnesses about the NRA through the course of their investigation.

“I can’t go into what we’ve been able to learn thus far on that issue. I can tell you it’s one of deep concern to me and to other members of the committee, that we get to the bottom of these allegations that the Russians may have sought to funnel money through the NRA,” Schiff said. “It would be negligent of us not to investigate.”

Glenn Simpson, the co-founder of research firm Fusion GPS, alluded to Torshin and the NRA during his closed-door testimony before the House intelligence committee in November.

“It appears the Russians, you know, infiltrated the NRA. And there is more than one explanation for why,” Simpson told lawmakers. “But I would say broadly speaking, it appears that the Russian operation was designed to infiltrate conservative organizations. And they targeted various conservative organizations, religious and otherwise, and they seem to have made a very concerted effort to get in with the NRA.”



(click here to continue reading Depth Of Russian Politician’s Cultivation Of NRA Ties Revealed : NPR.)

Citizens United is the worst thing to happen to America democracy, even worse than gerrymandering. If foreign hostile nations can pour untraceable funds into our system of elections, democracy is not preserved.

Written by Seth Anderson

March 10th, 2018 at 9:39 am

Posted in politics

Tagged with , , ,

Why more companies should hop on the anti-NRA bandwagon

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Jesus gun
Jesus Lock-and-Load

A follow-up to the brewing NRA corporate backlash, which continues to grow…

Robert Reed of the Chicago Tribune writes, in part:

The biggest problem with this anti-NRA crusade is that more companies haven’t joined it.

In addition to acting as responsible corporate citizens, these companies are teeing up an important new business strategy. They’re aligning themselves with an emerging market of younger, more socially conscious consumers and financial backers who want to connect with companies that address big social justice issues, including a crackdown on gun violence.

The corporate backlash against the NRA and its approximately 5 million members shows no sign of abating. In addition to United Airlines, the anti-NRA crowd includes Delta Air Lines, Hertz, Avis Budget, Enterprise, Symantec (owner of the LifeLock identity theft protection company), SimpliSafe (home security), insurer MetLife and First National Bank of Omaha, which offered a branded NRA Visa credit card.

Amazon, Google and Apple are under pressure to stop offering an NRA channel through their streaming services.

That channel is sort of an ongoing infomercial, showcasing segments about various firearms and gun-related issues, including one about the difficulty of buying an AR-15 semi-automatic weapon in California because of red tape and a 10-day waiting process. The NRA’s correspondent boasted about getting the gun in time for Christmas.

Companies also are aligning with the multitudes of baby boomers, millennials and teenagers taking a stance against gun violence.

As more CEOs are discovering, customers prefer to patronize companies that are in sync with many of their broad social values— improving public safety, saving the environment, rationale immigration policies and more.

Increasingly, companies are being held accountable for their corporate behavior and often are blasted on social media when they disappoint. That may happen to FedEx, which on Monday decided to maintain its NRA discount program and is facing mounting criticism.

(click here to continue reading Why more companies should hop on the anti-NRA bandwagon – Chicago Tribune.)

FedEx in the snow
FedEx in the snow

And as I mentioned, I’m a long-time customer of FedEx, and opposed to the NRA. Since FedEx is telling me to take my business elsewhere, I shall oblige. I don’t receive any special discounts from FedEx, but they are saying NRA members should. 


FedEx said it was keeping a discount deal for NRA members while issuing a statement that tried to distance its views on gun policy from the group’s.


On Tuesday it clarified that the discount program it offers is for NRA members, not the organization itself. FedEx has never provided any donation or sponsorship to the NRA, the company said.



(click here to continue reading NRA: Companies sticking by the them a problem? FedEx poses test case.)

Written by Seth Anderson

February 27th, 2018 at 7:26 pm

Posted in Business,politics

Tagged with ,

#BoycottNRA: Symantec, Hertz, Avis join Enterprise, Omaha bank, Chubb in cutting ties with NRA

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Old Fashioned
Old Fashioned Gun

Amazing. We live in a different world now. A better world, but I’m still shocked at how drastically corporations have changed to become socially aware in my lifetime.

Several major companies — Enterprise Holdings, First National Bank of Omaha, Symantec, Hertz and Avis — have ended co-branding partnerships with the National Rifle Association as a #BoycottNRA social media movement picks up steam.

American businesses have become increasingly politically aware and have participated in boycotts over the past few years against states over LGBT rights.

(click here to continue reading #BoycottNRA: Symantec, Hertz, Avis join Enterprise, Omaha bank, Chubb in cutting ties with NRA – The Washington Post.)

Snowy Delivery
FedEx truck’s Snowy Delivery

FedEx is still frantically analyzing the math in their corporate headquarters, and hasn’t decided which side to be on: the NRA’s 5 million member base, or with the rest of us. I’ve had a FedEx account for nearly 20 years, but I’ll stop using it if they decide to remain with the NRA zealots.

FedEx, for example, gives NRA Business Alliance members up to a 26 percent discount on shipping expenses.

FedEx has not said anything publicly about its NRA association in recent days; when reached around 4:30 ET on Friday afternoon, a company spokesperson said he had no information to provide.

Written by Seth Anderson

February 24th, 2018 at 1:06 am

Posted in Business,politics

Tagged with , ,

Trump Promotes Arming Teachers

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Scaring The Nation With Their Guns and Ammunition
Scaring The Nation With Their Guns and Ammunition

President Idiot’s latest suggestion is the suggestion of someone who gets most of his information from television or movies. Most veterans I’ve heard discuss this seem to universally think it a horrid abomination of an idea. Trained professionals hit the target 30% of the time or less (different folks have posited different numbers), but a high school teacher is going to protect kids from a massacre in a crowded school hallway? Laughable, except real people will die. And the teacher shortage is about to become acute – I’d guess many teachers would find alternative jobs before having to become soldiers in their own classrooms.

President Trump on Thursday intensified his calls for arming highly trained teachers as part of an effort to fortify schools against shooting massacres like the one that occurred in Parkland, Fla., last week, even as he denounced active shooter drills that try to prepare students to survive a rampage.

“I want certain highly adept people, people who understand weaponry, guns” to have a permit to carry concealed firearms in schools, Mr. Trump said during his second White House meeting in two days to discuss how to respond to the shooting that killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Teachers who were qualified to handle a weapon — Mr. Trump estimated between 10 percent and 40 percent — would receive “a little bit of a bonus,” he said, adding that he would devote federal money to training them.

(click here to continue reading Trump Promotes Arming Teachers, but Rejects Active Shooter Drills – The New York Times.)


A few Tweets on this topic I read yesterday from various folks…

So, yeah…

She s Not A Girl Who Misses Much
She’s Not A Girl Who Misses Much

Making schools a free-fire zone is ridiculous. Donald Trump doesn’t want guns in his own hotels/golf courses, but he wants Mrs. Hettenhausen to strap on a .45 before she starts her English class? And when is she training? Before 3rd period?


Donald Trump spoke in favor of gun rights at the National Rifle Association convention today, but security and staff at several of his prized hotels and golf courses told ABC News that guests are not allowed to carry guns there.

Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s posh Florida club, doesn’t allow guns, a hotel staff member told ABC News.

Trump National Doral, in Miami, Florida, doesn’t allow guns either, a security official told ABC News. The resort would “much rather not” have guns on the property, said a security official with the hotel, who noted that guns are “not to be carried on our property.”

“We’ve had guests that have brought them before,” he said, but those guns “had to remain in their safe the whole time in the room.”

A security worker at Trump National in Jupiter, Florida, said “no” when asked if guns were allowed on premises by citizens who are licensed to carry them. 

Trump International Golf Club in Palm Beach County, Florida, also doesn’t allow citizens with concealed-carry licenses to bring their guns on the property, a golf-shop worker told ABC News.



(click here to continue reading Donald Trump Is Against ‘Gun-Free Zones’ But Guns Aren’t Allowed on Many of His Properties, Staff Says – ABC News.)


The original Trump plan was to have two armed, well trained and well paid security guards from Blackwater né Academi on either side of each and every child. They would escort the kid from home to class, then form a perimeter around the child. Taxpayer money will funnel directly into Eric Prince’s Seychelles Island bank accounts, and Trump would get a percentage.

Written by Seth Anderson

February 22nd, 2018 at 3:15 pm

Posted in crime,politics

Tagged with , ,

Has the NRA Finally Met Its Match??

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No Weapons
No Weapons…

Katha Pollitt of The Nation notes how media punditry has twisted itself into support for murder of innocents…

for the pro-gun crowd, it doesn’t seem to matter how many people die (over 35,000) or are injured (over 81,000) per year; or that you are vastly more likely to kill yourself or others if you have a gun in the house; or that, on average, one to two women are shot and killed each day by a past or present partner. Each atrocity is just another reason for more guns. Rush Limbaugh called just the other day for guns to be allowed in classrooms, while Education Secretary Betsy “Grizzly Bear” DeVos argued that arming teachers is an “option.” Because kids are never shot by accident when a gun falls out of a purse or pocket, and not one of the 3.6 million teachers in the land would ever use a gun to threaten a student.

The commentariat hasn’t always been much help, either. In the mainstream media, playing the pundit who takes weird and contorted “contrarian” positions is good for your career. A few years ago, libertarian writer Megan McArdle wrote a piece in The Daily Beast claiming that nothing much could be done about guns, so kids should be taught to rush the shooter: “If we drilled it into young people that the correct thing to do is for everyone to instantly run at the guy with the gun, these sorts of mass shootings would be less deadly, because even a guy with a very powerful weapon can be brought down by 8-12 unarmed bodies piling on him at once.” Let the kids handle it! McArdle, by the way, just got a column in The Washington Post.

In The New York Times, meanwhile, David Brooks worried, post-Parkland, that gun-control advocates don’t show enough “respect” to red-staters, while Ross Douthat tied himself in knots explaining why guns should be permitted but abortion banned. Douthat also defended the paranoid right-wing fantasy that guns let us resist the state “when it imposes illegitimately” (good luck with that!) and proposed to reduce gun violence by delaying the age at which citizens can buy AR-15s to 30 (for semiautomatic pistols, he suggests waiting until 25). It’s as though 64-year-old Stephen Paddock never killed 58 people in Las Vegas (and injured another 851) less than five months ago. It’s as though the vast majority of killings with guns, including mass murders, were not committed by grown-up men. Well, at least they’re not having abortions.

Enough with the craziness, and enough with the clever pundits and the quiet politicians and the defeatist citizenry, too. There’s no reason why anyone—of any age—needs to own an AR-15. In fact, maybe I shouldn’t say this, because we progressives seem to be all about winning the MAGA-hat-wearing white working class, but I don’t believe you have a right to own a gun, period

(click here to continue reading Has the NRA Finally Met Its Match? | The Nation.)

Until The Money Runs Out
Until The Money Runs Out…

The pay scale for right-wing bloviators must be off the charts, or else these people have no soul. I guess both options are possible. I mean, what other explanation is there for Ms. McArdle’s suggestion that instead of regulating purchase of guns, a better solution is for young children to sacrifice their bodies so that the shooter’s gun over-heats and their classmates can collectively take the shooter down by sitting on him or something. Unconscionable. 


I’d also like us to encourage people to gang rush shooters, rather than following their instincts to hide; if we drilled it into young people that the correct thing to do is for everyone to instantly run at the guy with the gun, these sorts of mass shootings would be less deadly, because even a guy with a very powerful weapon can be brought down by 8-12 unarmed bodies piling on him at once. Would it work? Would people do it? I have no idea; all I can say is that both these things would be more effective than banning rifles with pistol grips.



(click here to continue reading There’s Little We Can Do to Prevent Another Massacre.)

Congress doesn’t allow guns in Congress, Trump doesn’t allow guns in his rallies or at Mar-a-Lago. Wonder why?

Written by Seth Anderson

February 22nd, 2018 at 2:05 pm

Posted in politics

Tagged with ,

Clinging to Bibles and Guns

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Never Seems To Smile
Never Seems To Smile

Yowsa. I think we need to seriously consider banning churches – too much violence, too many religious-minded people are murderers. 

Braxton, a member of the church, was sitting in a back overflow area when another congregant tapped him on the shoulder and told him he had taken an already-occupied seat.

Ushers and others chose to clear the area and let Braxton cool down. But Storms, who is a church member but has no official role at Keystone Fellowship, approached him.

Storms asked Braxton to step outside with him, and Braxton punched him in the face.

Storms told police he was “trying to stop him because I was afraid he was going to hurt me and other people,” according to an arrest affidavit filed in the case.

But firing a gun in a crowded church is “unreasonable,” Steele said Thursday, as is the suggestion that Storms acted in self-defense.

“This is a situation where a gun is introduced into a fistfight,” he said.

The arrest affidavit filed in the case noted that Braxton came to church “only armed with his Bible.”

(click here to continue reading Montco man charged in church-service killing – philly-archives.)


First Stop Guns
First Stop Guns

And on a serious note, Trump, and the rest of the NRA/GOP want to remove gun free zones from nearly everywhere, except in the halls of Congress and other similarly creepy places.

Written by Seth Anderson

June 1st, 2016 at 12:11 pm

Posted in religion

Tagged with , , ,

Gun-Friendly Texas Is Getting Even Gunnier

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Don't Bring Yer Guns to Town
Don’t Bring Yer Guns to Town

As someone who frequently visits the foreign country of Texas, this frightens me a bit…

Texas is so gun-friendly that it is easier to get into the Capitol in Austin with a firearm than without one — licensed, gun-carrying lawmakers and members of the public have their own no-wait security lane, and the unarmed masses have to stand in line and slog through the metal detectors.

But on Friday, gun rights throughout the state expanded still more, as a new law took effect that allows certain Texans to wear their handguns in holsters on their hips — or in shoulder holsters, Dirty Harry-style — openly displaying the fact that they are armed as they work, shop, dine and go about their day.

Gun rights will advance again in August, when students and faculty members at Texas universities will be allowed to carry concealed handguns on campus, although openly carrying them is prohibited.


(click here to continue reading Gun-Friendly Texas Is Getting Even Friendlier – The New York Times.)

I’m so glad I survived growing up in Texas when I was younger and rasher, I lived through many confrontations with frat boys or other ne’er-do-wells, luckily nobody was killed because nobody had a pistol. We just used our fists, feet and voices, and we lived. 

Written by Seth Anderson

January 2nd, 2016 at 2:21 pm

Posted in News-esque

Tagged with ,

America’s Police Departments Kill Civilians Frequently

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Police Line - Do Not Cross
Police Line – Do Not Cross.

In a free society, the numbers of annual fatal police shootings should be public so these cases can be thoughtfully discussed. The only reason these numbers are hidden is because the police doesn’t want to talk about them, and the police unions are still strong enough to block wider discussion and distribution of these troubling statistics.

The true number of fatal police shootings is surely much higher, however, because many law enforcement agencies do not report to the FBI database. Attempts by journalists to compile more complete data by collating local news reports have resulted in estimates as high as 1,000 police killings a year. There is no way to know how many victims, like [Michael] Brown, were unarmed.

By contrast, there were no fatal police shootings in Great Britain last year. Not one. In Germany, there have been eight police killings over the past two years. In Canada — a country with its own frontier ethos and no great aversion to firearms — police shootings average about a dozen a year.

Liberals and conservatives alike should be outraged at the frequency with which police in this country use deadly force. There is no greater power that we entrust to the state than the license to take life. To put it mildly, misuse of this power is at odds with any notion of limited government.

I realize that the great majority of police officers never fire their weapons in the line of duty. Most cops perform capably and honorably in a stressful, dangerous job; 27 were killed in 2013, according to the FBI. Easy availability of guns means that U.S. police officers — unlike their counterparts in Britain, Japan or other countries where there is appropriate gun control — must keep in mind the possibility that almost any suspect might be packing heat.

(click here to continue reading What America’s police departments don’t want you to know – The Washington Post.)

Forensic Services
Forensic Services.

These numbers are not good, which is due to a multitude of factors, some of which are structural issues with American society. Allowing the NRA to set policy doesn’t help either. We can all agree being a police officer is a challenging, shitty job, however, that doesn’t give officers absolute freedom to fire guns first, and ask questions later.

Popo Starry Pants
Popo Starry Pants

D. Brian Burghart wrote a piece for Gawker a few months ago about this paucity of information, and what it means:

The bottom line was that I found the absence of such a library of police killings offensive. And so I decided to build it. I’m still building it. But I could use some help. You can find my growing database of deadly police violence here, at Fatal Encounters, and I invite you to go here, research one of the listed shootings, fill out the row, and change its background color. It’ll take you about 25 minutes. There are thousands to choose from, and another 2,000 or so on my cloud drive that I haven’t even added yet. After I fact-check and fill in the cracks, your contribution will be added to largest database about police violence in the country. Feel free to check out what has been collected about your locale’s information here.

The biggest thing I’ve taken away from this project is something I’ll never be able to prove, but I’m convinced to my core: The lack of such a database is intentional. No government—not the federal government, and not the thousands of municipalities that give their police forces license to use deadly force—wants you to know how many people it kills and why.

It’s the only conclusion that can be drawn from the evidence. What evidence? In attempting to collect this information, I was lied to and delayed by the FBI, even when I was only trying to find out the addresses of police departments to make public records requests. The government collects millions of bits of data annually about law enforcement in its Uniform Crime Report, but it doesn’t collect information about the most consequential act a law enforcer can do.

I’ve been lied to and delayed by state, county and local law enforcement agencies—almost every time. They’ve blatantly broken public records laws, and then thumbed their authoritarian noses at the temerity of a citizen asking for information that might embarrass the agency. And these are the people in charge of enforcing the law.

(click here to continue reading What I’ve Learned from Two Years Collecting Data on Police Killings.)


Written by Seth Anderson

December 2nd, 2014 at 10:54 am

Posted in News-esque

Tagged with , ,

She’s Not A Girl Who Misses Much was uploaded to Flickr

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Dundas St West somewhere, Toronto.

Actual title and artist unknown.

embiggen by clicking

I took She’s Not A Girl Who Misses Much on September 07, 2013 at 06:54PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on May 21, 2014 at 03:01AM

Written by eggplant

May 21st, 2014 at 9:52 am

Where Are the Tears for The 260 School Children Killed in Chicago

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 Killing People Is Rude

The gun fever has not abated in our country, but we have to pay closer attention to it, for all of our sakes. 

David Muhammad writes:

It was a colleague in Chicago. I had emailed her the day before asking for research into one of the mentoring programs in the city’s schools for youth with the highest risk of being shot. 

She provided me with the information I was seeking. Then she included a P.S.: “What a devastating horrible day in CT. But frankly I wish people cared this much when it was children on the south and west sides of Chicago.”

I was snapped back into reality with the email. The tragedy in Newtown was truly horrific. But there is similar carnage carried out every day in the streets of America’s cities, especially in the President’s hometown of Chicago, where I work in Oakland, in Philadelphia, and many other cities across the nation. 

In 2010, nearly 700 Chicago school children were shot and 66 of them died. Last year, Mayor Rahm Emanuel attended a memorial for 260 school children who had been killed in just the previous three years. On several occasions in the past year, tens of people have been shot in a single weekend on the streets of the city. The worst three-day stretch saw 10 killed and 37 wounded in gun fire. But Google the term “Chicago weekend shootings” and the results are far too many deadly weekends to count. 

Oakland, Calif. has seen a huge increase in shootings. Last year, three small children were murdered in shootings. The youngest victim hadn’t yet turned 2. Oakland has become the first city in the country to have its police force taken over by a federal court. Because of a lack of resources, the city has one of the lowest police to resident ratios in the country. 

Gun violence in America is a pandemic, but there is no round-the-clock news coverage. No national address from the President with tears. No pledge for urgent change. 

(click here to continue reading 260 School Children Killed in Chicago in 3 Years — Where Are the Tears for Them? | Alternet.)

Just to continue the theme: today’s Tribune reports

An 18-year-old man was shot and killed and five other people were wounded, including an 11-year-old boy, across Chicago Christmas evening and early this morning.

About 7 p.m., an 11-year-old boy was grazed in the arm in the 6200 block of South Michigan Avenue and taken to Comer Children’s Hospital, according to police. He was walking in a group when he heard shots and felt pain.

(click here to continue reading Chicago Tribune – Overnight shootings leave 1 dead, 5 wounded across Chicago.)

I am considering creating a Tumblr blog just to focus on Chicago gun violence, and related topics, but haven’t gotten around to doing it yet.

Written by Seth Anderson

December 26th, 2012 at 11:02 am

Posted in News-esque,politics

Tagged with , ,

Politicizing Tragedy

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How Mike Huckabee Imagines the World

I wasn’t going to write anything about the horrific events in Newtown, CT, but Christian Taliban propagandist Mike Huckabee has really enraged me with his illogical bloviating.

Steve Benen of Maddowblog has the video and transcript:

Neil Cavuto said that many invariably ask after tragedies like this, “How could God let this happen?” Huckabee responded:

Well, you know, it’s an interesting thing. We ask why there is violence in our schools but we have systematically removed God from our schools. Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage? […]

You know, God wasn’t armed. He didn’t go to the school. But God will be there in the form of a lot people with hugs and with therapy and a whole lot of ways in which I think he will be involved in the aftermath. Maybe we ought to let him in on the front end and we wouldn’t have to call him to show up when it’s all said and done at the back end.”

So, by Huckabee’s reasoning, the separation of church and state is at least partially responsible for a gunman killing 26 people, including 20 children. There are a few problems with such a perspective.

Theologically, many Christians believe God is omnipresent, and can’t be “systematically removed” from anything. For that matter, there’s very little in the Christian tradition that suggests God punishes children when constitutional law hurts His feelings.

Politically, Huckabee’s comments — seeking to exploit a violent tragedy to push a bogus cultuyre war agenda — are reminder that the former Arkansas governor and failed presidential candidate occasionally just isn’t a nice guy.

(click here to continue reading This Week in God – The Maddow Blog.)

According to Huckabee’s reasoning, if the children had sacrificed a virgin goat that morning, god would have taken time out of his busy schedule picking which football teams win, and whatever else he occupies his time with, and stopped the massacre. God may omnipotent, but he is apparently also petulant. “No goat sacrifice in my name today? Then thou shall die by the hands of a nut job with a high-powered gun.” As any student of history realizes, Christians, even devout Christians, are not immune to violence. 

So nice of Mr. Huckabee to blame the victims for not praying harder, after they are shot to death. I blame the NRA instead. They are actually on this earth, and from my perspective, as culpable in the murders as any other entity.

Who Would Jesus Shoot

which leads me to the second point I’d like to make: namely that the corporate media is complicit with their shameless and breathless reporting whenever a slaughter occurs. Where is the same sort of hyperventilating when ten people were shot just last night in Chicago?  Unfortunately, a fairly typical number of shootings for 21st century Chicago. 

Watch Your Damn Mouth.jpg
Watch Your Damn Mouth

Roger Ebert said it more eloquently: 

Let me tell you a story. The day after Columbine, I was interviewed for the Tom Brokaw news program. The reporter had been assigned a theory and was seeking sound bites to support it. “Wouldn’t you say,” she asked, “that killings like this are influenced by violent movies?” No, I said, I wouldn’t say that. “But what about ‘Basketball Diaries’?” she asked. “Doesn’t that have a scene of a boy walking into a school with a machine gun?” The obscure 1995 Leonardo Di Caprio movie did indeed have a brief fantasy scene of that nature, I said, but the movie failed at the box office (it grossed only $2.5 million), and it’s unlikely the Columbine killers saw it.

The reporter looked disappointed, so I offered her my theory. “Events like this,” I said, “if they are influenced by anything, are influenced by news programs like your own. When an unbalanced kid walks into a school and starts shooting, it becomes a major media event. Cable news drops ordinary programming and goes around the clock with it. The story is assigned a logo and a theme song; these two kids were packaged as the Trench Coat Mafia. The message is clear to other disturbed kids around the country: If I shoot up my school, I can be famous. The TV will talk about nothing else but me. Experts will try to figure out what I was thinking. The kids and teachers at school will see they shouldn’t have messed with me. I’ll go out in a blaze of glory.”

In short, I said, events like Columbine are influenced far less by violent movies than by CNN, the NBC Nightly News and all the other news media, who glorify the killers in the guise of “explaining” them. I commended the policy at the Sun-Times, where our editor said the paper would no longer feature school killings on Page 1. The reporter thanked me and turned off the camera. Of course the interview was never used. They found plenty of talking heads to condemn violent movies, and everybody was happy.

(click here to continue reading Elephant :: rogerebert.com :: Reviews.)

Written by Seth Anderson

December 15th, 2012 at 2:26 pm

George Washington was a socialist

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If you use the same reasoning the Rethuglicans are using against implementing the individual insurance mandate, then George Washington was a socialist too

South branch of the river

Joe Conason writes:

One of the favorite complaints against the healthcare reform bill is that the founding document doesn’t permit the federal government to order anyone to buy a product or service. That supposedly renders illegitimate the individual insurance mandate that is part of the bill.

As every fervent advocate of gun rights ought to know, however, that argument suffers from a glaring historical flaw. Only a few years after the nation’s Founding Fathers ratified the Constitution, Congress approved the Militia Act of 1792, which was duly signed by George Washington, then the president and commander in chief.

Establishing state militias and a national standard for their operation, the Militia Act explicitly required every “free able-bodied white male citizen” between the ages of 18 and 45, with a few occupational exceptions, to “provide himself with a good musket or firelock, a sufficient bayonet and belt, two spare flints, and a knapsack, a pouch with a box therein to contain not less than twenty-four cartridges, suited to the bore of his musket or firelock, each cartridge to contain a proper quantity of powder and ball; or with a good rifle, knapsack, shot-pouch and powder horn, twenty balls suited to the bore of his rifle, and a quarter of a pound of powder..”

Within six months, every citizen enrolled and notified of his required militia service had to equip himself as specified above. There was spirited debate in Congress as to whether the state ought to subsidize the purchase of arms for men too poor to afford their own, so that everyone could serve his country. Subsidized or not, however, the founders saw no constitutional barrier to a law ordering every citizen to buy a gun and ammo.

[Click to continue reading So George Washington was a socialist, too! – Joe Conason – Salon.com]

Ru-oh! Better warn the Texas Board of Education so they can scrub mention of George Washington from any textbooks…

Written by Seth Anderson

March 25th, 2010 at 8:13 pm

Posted in politics

Tagged with , , , ,

Reading Around on December 16th through December 17th

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A few interesting links collected December 16th through December 17th:

  • The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs : AT&T: Chokehold is “irresponsible and pointless” – It’s their own fault, of course. Go look at their financial statements and open up the Financial Operations and Statistics Summary and look at capital expenditures over the past eight quarters. I’m no math whiz, but it looks like capex has gone down by about 30% over the time period. Scroll down a bit to the Wireless section and check out data revenues — they’re up 80% over the same period.
  • WordPress › Pretty Link « WordPress Plugins – Shrink, track and share any URL on the Internet from your WordPress website. You can now shorten links using your own domain name (as opposed to using tinyurl.com, bit.ly, or any other link shrinking service)! In addition to creating clean links, Pretty Link tracks each hit on your URL and provides a full, detailed report of where the hit came from, the browser, os and host.
  • The Conway Twitty Tribute Pistol (MP3s) – WFMU’s Beware of the Blog – If you’d prefer to remember Conway Twitty for his talents as a singer and songwriter, here are a few MP3s to help you out. All were written by Twitty, with the exception of Pop A Top, which was composed by Nat Stuckey.

Written by swanksalot

December 17th, 2009 at 8:03 pm

Posted in humor,Links,Music

Tagged with , , , , , ,

More Guns Means More Deaths

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Bob Herbert reports this salient fact:

Killing People Is Rude

Since Sept. 11, 2001, when the country’s attention understandably turned to terrorism, nearly 120,000 Americans have been killed in nonterror homicides, most of them committed with guns. Think about it — 120,000 dead. That’s nearly 25 times the number of Americans killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

For the most part, we pay no attention to this relentless carnage. The idea of doing something meaningful about the insane number of guns in circulation is a nonstarter. So what if eight kids are shot to death every day in America. So what if someone is killed by a gun every 17 minutes.

The goal of the National Rifle Association and a host of so-called conservative lawmakers is to get ever more guns into the hands of ever more people. Texas is one of a number of states considering bills to allow concealed guns on college campuses.

[Click to continue reading Bob Herbert – The American Way – NYTimes.com]

First Stop Guns

I have nothing against hunters owning rifles, and even responsible homeowners having pistols, but allowing more weapons to be carried in public is ridiculous. I don’t want to live in Deadwood, circa 1872, I want to live in the modern world. Assault rifles in the hands of 19 year old college students is not a solution, it is a problem, it is a danger to all of us.

Written by Seth Anderson

April 15th, 2009 at 8:58 am

Posted in government,politics

Tagged with , , ,