Good News Friday

Hey everyone! We survived another 9/11 without a terror attack. You can stop being scared now.

In other good and/or interesting news:

• Environmental regulators have blocked Western Australia’s truly atrocious shark cull.

• If you haven’t heard NFL Today host James Brown’s passionate plea for men to address domestic violence, do so now.

• The mid-’90s “tough on crime” legislative wave that swept the country that resulted in the 1994 Violent Crime Control Act is now revealed to have been a huge, budget-busting mistake:

“Here’s the federal government coming in and saying we’ll give you money if you punish people more severely, and 28 states and the District of Columbia followed the money and enacted stricter sentencing laws for violent offenses,” Travis says.

But as Travis now knows all too well, there’s a problem with that idea. Researchers including a National Academy of Sciences panel he led have since found only a modest relationship between incarceration and lower crime rates.

“We now know with the fullness of time that we made some terrible mistakes,” Travis said. “And those mistakes were to ramp up the use of prison. And that big mistake is the one that we now, 20 years later, come to grips with. We have to look in the mirror and say, ‘look what we have done.'”

Maybe this is the beginning of a shift away from the punitive, prison-for-profit moral cesspool this country has placed itself in.

Panera Bread’s CEO has asked patrons to leave their guns at home. This is a weak gesture — the stores won’t post “No Guns” signs and store employees won’t ask gun-toters to leave. But it’s a gesture nonetheless. I hope those of us who dine at Panera (guilty as charged!) leave as soon as we see a gun loon walk in the door.

• Acceptance of gays and lesbians in U.S. congregations is on the increase.

• On the grounds that it’s necessary to deter others, prosecutors are seeking 16 months in prison for right-wing narcissist/asshole Dinesh D’Souza, who pled guilty to campaign finance fraud in May:

In a Wednesday court filing, federal prosecutors rejected defense arguments that D’Souza was “ashamed and contrite” about his crime, had “unequivocally accepted responsibility,” and deserved a sentence of probation with community service.

[...]

The government said a 10- to 16-month prison sentence was appropriate for D’Souza, and necessary to deter others from abusing the election process, including “well-heeled individuals who are tempted to use their money to help other candidates.”

It also said D’Souza waited to “the last possible moment” prior to trial before admitting guilt, and then went on TV shows and the Internet to complain about being “selectively” targeted for prosecution, and having little choice but to plead guilty.

“Based on the defendant’s own post-plea statements, the court should reject the defendant’s claims of contrition on the eve of sentencing,” prosecutors led by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in Manhattan said in the filing.

Bwaaahaaa. Guess those Fox Noise appearances didn’t help his case.

• Congratulations to Neil Patrick Harris, who wed his longtime fiancee David Birtka last weekend in Italy.

• Scientists find another Stonehenge buried beneath the Stonehenge we all know and love. And President Obama just visited there last week. Coincidence? I think not!

Good News, Tennessee Edition:

• A first-ever GLBT summer festival in the notoriously conservative Tri-Cities area received a warm welcome, showing signs of progress for East Tennessee:

Although it was their first festival, organizers said attendance was almost double what they expected. With a final turnout of more than 400 people, PCC Co-Executive Director John Baker said he was overwhelmed with the support he and his cause received.

[...]

“The simple fact that we can have it here in East Tennessee is a big plus,” Baker said. “The perceived notion is that East Tennessee is not accepting. But we find that, in East Tennessee, people are very accepting.”

The event was a fundraiser for a planned gay and lesbian center in East Tennessee.

This week’s video is a Key & Peele clip about, erm, “black ice.” Hilarious.

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Tennessee Gun Report

A brief round-up … Haven’t actually had a lot of time to look for news. However, we do have one accidental shooting this week.

• September 9, 2014:

1- Two loaded guns were found in different carry-on bags at Nashville International Airport. So, SO responsible, y’all.

2- A Brownsville student brought a loaded gun to school. Sigh.

• September 6, 2014:

A Memphis-area man accidentally shot his friend in the car while it was parked at a Mapco station, killing him.

• September 3, 2014:

A road rage incident on I-26 resulted in one man pulling a gun and threatening to blow off the other man’s finger.

• August 29, 2014:

Nashville’s own open carry loon, who parades around public places with a rifle strapped to his back and wearing a bullet proof vest, is back openly carrying is high-powered weaponry around the streets of Nashville. I have not seen this man, but if I ever do I am leaving. If that means I don’t pay my restaurant check, or bar tab, or whatever, so be it.

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Congratulations, Unidentified CA Man! You Are Our 2nd Amendment Hero Du Jour

Pro-tip: when the gun in your pocket accidentally goes off at a restaurant, maybe pretending it didn’t happen isn’t the best idea:

A man reportedly accidentally fired his weapon while he was at a Heavenly Village restaurant with his wife and two small children Saturday evening.

“The male subject was very apologetic and went back to his seat where he sat for 10-to-15 minutes before paying their [sic] bill and leaving the restaurant,” according to a South Lake Tahoe Police Department Police report based on witness statements.

[...]

A witness told police that the music in the restaurant was loud, but the shot was louder. He also said the man was noticeably stiffened following the shot, then regained his composure and continued to wait for his food. The witness was sure the man had shot himself in the leg and expected blood to start gushing out, but all he saw was a hole in his shorts.

He added that he was surprised no one called the police, but that later several patrons complained to staff and the police were eventually called.

According to the police, several witnesses were surprised that nobody called until several minutes after.

By the way, what kind of moron keeps a loaded gun in his pocket? Our last Second Amendment Hero Du Jour made the same mistake.

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Congratulations, Unidentified FL Man! You Are Our 2nd Amendment Hero Du Jour

Children + guns + Wendy’s fast food restaurant = gun FAIL:

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – A Clay County deputy’s gun accidentally discharged Thursday, injuring his child.

Deputies said the boy was reaching into the deputy’s pants to get a snack while they were at Wendy’s at 2530 Blanding Blvd. when he jostled the gun, causing it to discharge.

The child was slightly injured by a fragment that ricocheted off the floor and cut his legs and foot, deputies said.

A Wendy’s employee also had minor injuries from the fragments but declined medical treatment.

They said it was the deputy’s private handgun, not a service weapon.

There was no affect on his work status, according to the Clay County Sheriff’s Office.

Slow clap for the deputy, and the Wendy’s, and all the gun loons who continue to write these daily events off as “just accidents.” Nothing to see here, move along. Meanwhile, those Moms who are demanding that places like Wendy’s and Kroger ban weapons from their premises are — what’s the term the gun loons use? — hysterical gun-grabbing mommies. Riiight.

This weekend I counted what had to have been a record-breaking number of accidental shootings and gun discharges all across the country. In one 72-hour period we had:

• a 5-year-old child shooting himself in the face in Texas;
• a Virginia man killed at a Roanoke shooting range;
• a 4-year-old Virginia child shot in the chest with a pellet gun, who also died;
• a 13-year-old Maryland girl shot in the leg by a 14-year-old when the two found a gun cleaning out a relative’s house;
• a Memphis man accidentally shot and killed by his friend while they were in a car at a Mapco station;
• a gun in a high school student’s backpack discharged at a high school cafeteria in Missouri;
• a gun accidentally discharged at St. Louis County Community College in Ferguson, Mo., as two people discussed the gun’s sale;

.. and these are just the ones reported in the papers. Also, this doesn’t even cover the road rage and other irresponsible behavior that regularly fills the newspapers.

Here’s the thing. Gun accidents happen everywhere in the world. Wherever there are guns there will be gun accidents. It’s called math. In Kenya, a senator’s body guard accidentally shot his employer in the leg. In Saudi Arabia, a 12-year-old girl accidentally shot herself with dad’s hunting weapon. She died. Accidental shootings happen everywhere, because people are not perfect. They forget, they play, they leave things lying around, they screw up. Guns kill and injure, that’s what they’re made to do, and in the hands of imperfect humans accidents happen.

There is no way to avoid that except to limit the number of guns that people are exposed to on a regular basis. That’s called science. It’s also logic and common sense.

And yet, thanks to the loons at the NRA whose only goal is to sell more guns, my daily exposure to weapons has increased, not decreased. So the likelihood that I am going to be accidentally shot going about my daily business (like shopping at Kroger or eating at a restaurant) has increased through no fault of my own.

One of these ads appeared in our local fishwrap this weekend. I do occasionally shop at Kroger but, as long as open carry fanatics are welcomed in their stores anywhere in the U.S., I’m staying away. My life depends on it.

Moms Demand

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Dumbass Overzealous Wingnut Militia FAIL

A group of ATV-riding, camo-wearing, gun-brandishing DIY law and order types from Colorado decided they’d travel to the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona and, by God, do the job that our useless gummint has refused to do! And boy did they think they hit the jackpot when they thought they’d found smugglers or illegal immigrants in the Arizona desert one night, too!

Sadly for them they’d uncovered a group of wildlife biologists conducting a bat population survey. Hilarity did not ensue:

Estrada says one of the militiamen apologized to the group of conservationists, who apparently did not want to hear it.

“Of course, they weren’t very receptive about the apology. They actually told them that’s something you should not be doing. There’s danger out there. There’s other groups of people in campsites,” Estrada says.

Sheriff Estrada says Santa Cruz County does not welcome border militia groups.

“These people that are completely out of their environment. They really don’t know the area. They don’t know the terrain. They have little knowledge of the dynamics of the border. So it can be a real problem,” Estrada says. “We really don’t want them here.”

Dumbasses. I just love these idiot wingnuts who live in their information-bubble fantasyland, where they’re just so convinced that they’re the only ones who can save America from whatever issue is dominating the far reaches of the AM dial that month. And then they sail in like Captain fucking America and find out that a) the problem isn’t nearly as bad as the mouth-breathers have said it is and 2) they’re actually not helping things.

This all goes back to the psychological problem at the root of the conservative extreme: the idea that they’ve lost cultural relevance. Poor dears, trying so hard to be important somehow, to have an impact. Making fools of themselves every step of the way.

Take a pill, get some therapy and for God’s sake, stop listening to nativist right-wing hate radio.

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Good News Friday

A day late on this one, sorry. Hope everyone had a good week. I’m back to work after a week’s vacation and a week to get caught up, so blogging may be light.

We were in Chicago and Wisconsin for Labor Day week. I absolutely adore Wisconsin. I can’t say enough nice things about it up there. Beautiful countryside and every person we met was awesome, just the nicest people anywhere. I love y’all.

We visited Taliesin, Frank Lloyd Wright’s personal home in Spring Green, then went to Chicago and enjoyed a few days there. I also absolutely adore Chicago. Cleanest city in America. If I had the slightest inkling that I’d be able to handle the winters up there I’d move in a heartbeat. But I’ve been to Chicago in January and it ain’t pretty.

So here are a few items of good news to start your weekend with. Enjoy!

• A Federal appeals court has ordered a review of Halbig v Burwell, a case which dealt a severe blow to Obamacare by eliminating federal subsidies to low-income people in some 36 states. The case will now go before the full D.C. Circuit Court.

• Texas’ last clinic providing abortion care in the Rio Grande Valley will reopen, following a district court’s ruling blocking key parts of Texas’ new abortion law.

• Related: For the first time in its history, Cosmopolitan magazine will make political endorsements — and it’s only choosing pro-choice candidates.

• Former VA Governor Bob McDonnell and wife are guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty.

• Chicago’s federal appeals court has ruled that the Wisconsin and Indiana gay marriage bans are unconstitutional.

• Former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson has a think tank and its next major initiative is tackling climate change and advocating for stronger environmental regulations.

• Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has proposed a $13.25 minimum wage.

• A federal judge has found BP acted with “gross negligence” in relation to the 2010 Gulf oil spill. The fine could run as high as $18 billion.

• A car powered by salt water is coming soon to European roadways.

• Sweden’s Parken Zoo has welcomed a rare pygmy hippo and she’s keee-yoooooot:

_77373744_hippoolivia1_parkenzoo

• The most complete fossil of a ginormous sauropod dinosaur has been found in Argentina. The vegetarian dinosaur species is supposedly the largest animal ever to walk the face of the earth.

Good News, Tennessee Edition:

• This story of an abused and neglected horse dropped off for “training” in East Tennessee normally wouldn’t make the good news column except it has a happy ending, thanks to the Humane Society of Washington County. These are good people, maybe send them a few bucks if you can spare it.

• Thank you, Obamacare! More than 336,000 Tennesseans will share in $10 million in insurance refunds thanks to the Affordable Care Act provision requiring insurance companies spend at least 80% of insurance premiums on patient care not, you know, marketing and lobbying.

This week’s cool video: I took this video of a Cross River Puffer at the Shedd Aquarium (sorry, I was too lazy to edit the sound). This little guy just cracked me up. Those eyes! That face! Hilarious. Enjoy.

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Doing It Wrong

I am not sure why East Tennessee State University has opened its campus to crackpot evangelists who harass students, but apparently being fat-shamed and berated as a “fornicator” is something you must endure as an ETSU student. From the Johnson City Press:

One student, whose identity will be protected by The Press, emailed the newspaper complaining that she was verbally harassed by Jackson in front of a large group of her peers when the streetcorner deacon said she “looked like (she) weighed as much as a football linebacker.”

[...]

But Jackson, who travels a circuit of U.S. college campuses issuing provocative condemnations of nearly every vice, bad habit, alternative lifestyle and differing viewpoint, properly filled out and submitted his application to speak in ETSU’s Borchuck Plaza, one of the college’s defined limited public forum areas, Smith said.

Apparently this guy is part of a fundie outfit called Revival Mission Ministries, which sends preachers out to college campuses to do “open-air preaching,” in which they rail and rant against pretty much everything they don’t agree with. They look an awful lot like the Westboro Baptist Church cult. Here they are at East Carolina University back in March:

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Note the joy on the students’ faces. /sarcasm

According to the story, Jackson’s ranting was followed by yet another raving street preacher the next day, with the campus public safety office erecting wooden barriers around him, something deemed necessary after Jackson’s appearance the day prior. Ye shall know them by their fruits, folks.

This isn’t preaching, it’s harassment. It’s ego-indulging, attention-seeking, self-promotion. In fact, people like this aren’t doing themselves or their cause any favors:

A landmark Pew Research from 2012 shows that attachment by young people to organized religious bodies is on the decline. Many of those who don’t belong to a church, synagogue, or mosque still practice religion informally to a certain extent. However, they have grown wary of the way that traditional institutions mix political power with the pursuit of otherworldly aims.

Nine out of ten older Americans are directly affiliated with a religion, a statistic that goes down to two-thirds with the youngest adults. Softened commitment generally means less strong attachment to God and less frequent attendance at services. It also entails more liberal political views, a higher likelihood of voting Democratic, and support for abortion rights.

Here’s a video of Jackson, pulled from the ministry’s website. As one might expect, he doesn’t seem to be winning many converts. Instead, he seems to be indulging his ego. He also seems to have a very narrow view of “sin.” Intolerance and unkindness are just as much sins as what you do with your naughty parts. Not sure why college students should be subjected to this. Jackson seems young and inexperienced, perhaps in a few years he’ll wake up and realize he’s Doing It Wrong.

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