Sunday, November 29, 2015

Sunday Reading

Stop The Terror — Dr. Jennifer Conti in Slate on the anti-abortion terrorism.

As news continues to unfold about Friday’s Planned Parenthood shooting in Colorado Springs, one thing is clear: Domestic terrorism remains unchecked, even on the day after Thanksgiving. To label this an isolated act of violence would be naïve. In 2015 alone, there has been unprecedented harassment from anti-choice extremists, including most recently, a series of slanderous manipulated videos used to attack Planned Parenthood’s fetal tissue donation programs. And now this.

We can speculate long and hard about the gunman’s motives or targets, but what is more significant—what keeps me up at night as an OB/GYN physician—is the concern that we as a nation have become complacent. Was it truly a shock that something so horrific emerged only weeks after anti–Planned Parenthood rhetoric dominated the presidential candidate debates? What was all of this manipulative campaigning if not an invitation to incite hate? And now this.

A few people were injured and only a few people died, some headlines will say. That’s not so many compared to the recent acts of terrorism in Paris. But here’s the irony: This is a homegrown terrorist, one that no amount of passport authentication or refugee rejection could have stopped. We spend all this effort agonizing over external threats, all the while overlooking the extremism, bigotry, and hatred that lives down the street. And now this.

This is a sign of crisis. When women are too scared to seek medical care for fear of being shot on the way to clinic, we are in crisis mode. This is beyond bullying and this is no longer simply a politicizing issue. This is a runaway train on which nobody is pulling the brakes. How far does this have to play out before we can stop pretending that abortion care is not real health care? Since 1977, there have been eight murders, 17 attempted murders, 42 bombings, 186 arsons, and thousands of incidents of criminal activity associated with U.S. abortion clinics. These numbers do not include what happened in Colorado Springs.

As a physician, I worry about patients. I worry that women will be too scared or intimidated to seek the medical care they deserve and need. I also worry about the men and women who work daily to maintain access to reproductive health care: clinic staff, legislators, advocates. This is the point of terrorism, though, is it not—to incite fear and paralysis? So what then is the solution? The solution is strength and bravery in numbers, and it’s a more accurate depiction of abortion in the media. It’s also government accountability.

In 1998, after the shooting of abortion provider Barnett Slepian, the U.S. Department of Justice established a Task Force on Violence Against Health Care Providers. This is the group that coordinates national investigations of incidents like that in Colorado Springs. There are also efforts in place to prevent such tragedies from happening in the first place. The Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act prohibits any violent, threatening, damaging, or obstructive act that interferes with obtaining or providing abortions. These are the laws. How we choose to uphold them, however, is a different story.

Anti-choice terrorism can be stopped. When it’s recognized for what it truly is, and when preventing it is given enough support on both sides of the aisle, this can be stopped. As with many critical issues, the first step is often the most difficult—recognizing that there is a problem. We are there now, and we need legitimate, sustainable solutions before this happens again.

See also John Nichols in The Nation on the silence from the GOP field on the shooting.

Doonesbury — Catching up.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Short Takes

Turkey shot down a Russian warplane.

Two men were arrested in Minneapolis as suspects in the shooting at the Black Lives Manner protest.

The State Department says the global alert for overseas travelers will be in effect until February.

A Chicago police officer has been charged with murder in the death of an unarmed black man.

A federal court has ruled that Wisconsin’s abortion law is unconstitutional.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Short Takes

Russia says the plane that crashed on the Sinai broke up in flight.

Witnesses describe gun rampage in Colorado Springs.

G.O.P. campaigns meet to whine about debate procedures.

43 Chipotle restaurants closed due to E. coli breakout.

The Royals won the World Series against the Mets.

R.I.P. Fred Thompson, 73, former senator, presidential candidate, and actor (Law & Order).

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Short Takes

Hungary built a fence to keep immigrants out.

23,000 people forced out by wildfires in California.

Professor shot and killed at university in Mississippi.

Political turmoil down under: Prime Minister Abbott booted from office.

Tropical Update:  Three in the Atlantic 93L, 94L, and 95L.

The Tigers lost 7-1 to the Twins.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Short Takes

Yet again.

U.S. stock markets rallied after six down sessions.

Two American service members were killed in Afghanistan by an “insider” attack from an Afghan soldier.

The Mormons will stay with the Boy Scouts after all.

Tropical Update: Tropical Storm Erika is drawing a bead on the Leewards, the Bahamas, and could be a Cat 1 hurricane by this weekend.

The Tigers beat the Angels 5-0 as Justin Verlander gets this close to a no-hitter.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Another Mass Shooting

This time in Lafayette, Louisiana, in a movie theatre.

A gunman killed two people and wounded nine others after opening fire Thursday night about 20 minutes into a movie being shown at theater in Lafayette, Louisiana, police said.

Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft said the 58-year-old white man used a handgun and later took his own life. Dee Stanley, chief administrative officer of the city about 50 miles southwest of Baton Rouge, told MSNBC TV that some of the wounded were in “very critical” condition with life-threatening injuries.

The ages of the victims range from late teens to 60s, according to Craft.

Lafayette police said the shooting occurred at the Grand Theatre 16 about 7:30 p.m. (8:30 p.m. ET). Witnesses described hearing about six shots during a screening of the movie “Trainwreck.”

Officials said it appears the gunman — who had a “criminal history” — entered the theater alone and fired randomly at film-goers.

One more awful, and every time this happens we all ask ourselves and each other how many more times does this have to happen before we do something about it.  Obviously we haven’t reached that point yet.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Short Takes

Dylann Roof, the alleged shooter in Charleston, is indicted on federal hate crime charges.

Secretary of State Kerry testified about the Iran deal before Congress.

The highway bill is running into a speed bump in the Senate.

Texas officials claim the video showing the arrest of Sandra Bland was not edited.

Five volcanoes erupted in Indonesia.

The Tigers beat the Mariners 9-4.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Short Takes

As noted below, Cuba and the U.S. re-opened their embassies in Washington and Havana.

The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously to support the Iran nuclear agreement; votes to lift sanctions.

The military plans to increase security at recruiting centers following the shooting in Chattanooga last week.

Greek banks re-opened on Monday for the first time in three weeks.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed a restrictive abortion bill.

The Tigers beat the Mariners 5-4.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Short Takes

Not Again — Shooting in Tennessee leaves four Marines dead.

Aurora, Colorado, gunman found legally sane and guilty on all counts.

President Obama visited a prison, calls for reform.

Japan votes to expand military’s role.

Doctors expect former President George H.W. Bush to recover from neck injury.

The Tigers resume play tonight against the Orioles.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Short Takes

Dylann Roof, the suspect in the Charleston shooting, has been extradited from North Carolina.

Haitians in the Dominican Republic face deportation.

F.C.C. says phone companies can ban robocalls.

Supreme Court upholds Texas ruling against Confederate license plate.

The Tigers and Reds were rained out.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

And Again

Here we are again with another mass shooting.

This time it’s a church in Charleston, South Carolina.  I’ve already provided links for the details.  Now comes the inevitable introspection, the ready-for-soundbite releases from the gun lobby and the politicians who keep them happy and the guns on the street.  Now comes the “now is not the time to talk about gun control” and the excuses that it’s too soon.  It’s always too soon until it’s too late.

Look, there I go, launching into my own cliches.  All right then, here’s Charlie Pierce who outdoes me and most other people armed with a keyboard.

What happened in a church in Charleston, South Carolina on Wednesday night is a lot of things, but one thing it’s not is “unthinkable.” Somebody thought long and hard about it. Somebody thought to load the weapon. Somebody thought to pick the church. Somebody thought to sit, quietly, through some of Wednesday night bible study. Somebody thought to stand up and open fire, killing nine people, including the pastor. Somebody reportedly thought to leave one woman alive so she could tell his story to the world. Somebody thought enough to flee. What happened in that church was a lot of things, but unthinkable is not one of them.

What happened in a Charleston church on Wednesday night is a lot of things, but one thing it’s not is “unspeakable.” We should speak of it often. We should speak of it loudly. We should speak of it as terrorism, which is what it was. We should speak of it as racial violence, which is what it was.

We should speak of it as an attack on history, which it was. This was the church founded by Denmark Vesey, who planned a slave revolt in 1822. Vesey was convicted in a secret trial in which many of the witnesses testified after being tortured. After they hung him, a mob burned down the church he built. His sons rebuilt it. On Wednesday night, someone turned it into a slaughter pen.


This was not an unspeakable act. Sylvia Johnson, one of only three survivors of the massacre, is speaking about it.

“She said that he had reloaded five different times… and he just said ‘I have to do it. You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go.'”

There is a timidity that the country can no longer afford. This was not an unthinkable act. A man may have had a rat’s nest for a mind, but it was well thought out. It was a cool, considered crime, as well planned as any bank robbery or any computer fraud. If people do not want to speak of it, or think about it, it’s because they do not want to follow the story where it inevitably leads. It’s because they do not want to follow this crime all the way back to the mother of all American crimes, the one that Denmark Vesey gave his life to avenge. What happened on Wednesday night was a lot of things. A massacre was only one of them.

And they will keep happening.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Short Takes

Secretary of State Kerry made an unannounced visit to Somalia.

Twitter Trail: Police follow the moves of the Texas shooters via social media.

Attorney General Lynch went to Baltimore.

President Obama is nominating Gen. Joseph Dunford, Jr. as the new head of the Joint Chiefs.

Hillary Clinton promises to go “even further” on immigration.

The Tigers lost to the White Sox 5-2.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Short Takes

Nepal asks foreign rescuers to leave as hope fades for finding more earthquake survivors.

Second gunman identified in attack in Texas.

NYPD officer shot over the weekend died from his injuries.

Supreme Court refuses to hear challenge to New Jersey ban on “gay repair” therapy.

Americans like their drones.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Short Takes

The Saudis like the Iran nuclear framework.

California agriculture is exempt from water restrictions.

Closing arguments in the Boston bombing trial.

Carbon monoxide kills eight in Maryland family.

Duke beat Wisconsin.

The Tigers won their Opening Day game against the Twins 4-0.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Thursday, February 19, 2015