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Bullets & Burgers... and Brains Blown to Bits

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Nicole Sandler

 

And after you witness an instructor get his brains blown out by a 9-year old shooting an Uzi sub machine gun, you can eat a giant, juicy burger. Mmmmm.

This is what we've apparently come to. Welcome to America.

 The website for Bullets & Burgers was down this morning. I expected either to see an apology and notice that children would no longer be able to shoot these lethal weapons - or a memorial to the now-dead instructor, Charles Vacca. Sadly, the website is now back up - with pictures of all the weapons that you can go there to shoot, but not a mention of the tragic and preventable shooting death that took place there less than 48 hours ago.  Interestingly, there is no phone number on their site either.

This is only the latest sickening gun story to emerge in a country that offers multiple similar stories each day. If you're looking for that kind of blood lust, just follow David Waldman's #gunfail blog over at Daily Kos. 

I had already invited my friend Cliff Schecter to join me on the show today to talk about Bill & Melinda Gates getting into the gun fight 

[They] have given $1 million to Initiative 594 in Washington state. The ballot initiative, if passed by voters on November 4 (and it currently enjoys overwhelming support), will require universal background checks for all firearm purchases in the state.

I also wanted to speak with Cliff about the NRA's continued hypocrisy, this time in the wake of Ferguson and their failure to defend the African American community there. 

But, of course, we talked at length about this tragedy that killed a 39-year old man, and will forever haunt a 9-year old little girl.

Susie Madrak of Crooks & Liars joined me in the first hour of today's show. She pointed out that accidents preventable shooting deaths like this have happened before. 

We also spoke about the racial divide, not only in Ferguson, MO but all over this nation, that's been amplified since the shooting death of Michael Brown.

Susie has a piece up at C&L , "In Ferguson, Black Drivers Are Profitable Cash Cows For Town's Coffers," about the racial makeup of traffic stops in that town, something that's echoed in small towns across the USA.  We also discussed the plight of TV & film producer Charles Belk, in LA for the Emmys, who was detained by Beverly Hill police for being a tall, bald, black man. He posted his first hand account of what was done to him  on Facebook. It's a travesty.

Then there's the shooting death of John Crawford III in Ohio, killed by police in Walmart for carrying a toy gun he got off a shelf in the toy department.

These stories are all too plentiful, and they must stop.

I've been asking what the spark that'll light the fuse to get Americans off our asses to make sure things change. I think Mike Brown's death was the spark, but it's a very, very long fuse.

Anonymous is trying to take the lead. Operation Ferguson is calling for a General Strike this Friday in the state of Missouri. They've set up a website at OperationFerguson.cf with all the info. But here's a taste:

A Message From The Protesters In Ferguson To Anonymous - READ HERE

Press Release READ HERE

Communique READ HERE

Operational Information CLICK HERE


 ACTION ALERT 1: White House Petition To Enact "Mike Brown's Law" - SIGN HERE

ACTION ALERT 2: White House Petition To Remove Governor Nixon From Office - SIGN HERE

Missouri Statewide "Hands Up & Walk Out" General Strike - READ HERE

Real-Time Updated List Of Solidarity Protests - CLICK HERE

 

I hope the people of Missouri join in. If they don't and this goes nationwide, count me in!

I'll be back tomorrow for the Thursday show. I'll speak with journalist Steven Thrasher and The Brad Blog's Brad Friedman, Radio or Not!

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Women Vote!

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Nicole Sandler

Welcome to August 26, 2014 - the 94th anniversary of the certification of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote in the United States. Although it's dubbed "Women's Equality Day," that's actually a misnomer, as women still have no constitutional right to equality. Although the Equal Rights Amendment was written by Alice Paul in 1923, it has yet to be ratified. But women do have the right to vote. And yes, women do vote!

That was the focus of today's "Gliberal Goddesses" gathering. Every other Tuesday morning, GottaLaff of The Political Carnival, Amy Simon of She's History, and I get together to talk about whatever we feel like discussing.

Today, Amy took the lead as the suffrage movement plays a big part in She's History.

Today also happens to be Primary Day here in Florida; Arizona, Oklahoma and Vermont go to the polls today too.

Because I'm still a bit under the weather and because I wanted to give her one final show of support, we listened back to the July 7 interview I did with Nan Rich, the former FL state senator and Senate Minority Leader who's vying for the Democratic nomination to run against Rick Scott for Governor.

It all comes down to today. So, if you're in Florida, I implore you to get out and vote!

And finally, last week we learned the sad, sickening news that ISIS militants had executed American journalist James Foley; today I spoke with a friend of his. Tom Risen is a reporter for US News and World Report, and went to college with Foley. Tom wrote a couple of articles about his friend last week, telling about how Foley encouraged him to come to Syria to cover the stories of the people there, and how he knew the dangers of the work, but had to do it anyway.

Another journalist named Risen has been in the news lately. It turns out the Tom Risen is the son of James Risen, the NY Times reporter and author who's being targeted by the Justice Department to turn over the names of confidential sources he used for a chapter in his 2006 book, State of War.

I'll be back tomorrow, with Susie Madrak of Crooks & Liars and whatever the day brings, Radio or Not!

 

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Take Those Threats Seriously

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Nicole Sandler

Americans have really short memories. It was less than a year ago that the Republicans shut down the US government for 16 very long days. And now Mitch McConnell is threatening to do it again. I suggest we take those threats very seriously.

To refresh our country's collective memory loss:

FirstFederal employees were furloughed for a combined total of 6.6 million days, more than in any previous government shutdown. At its peak, about 850,000 individuals per day were furloughed. That number fell once most Department of Defense civilian employees were able to return to work as the Pentagon implemented the Pay Our Military Act.

Secondthe shutdown cost the Federal government billions of dollars. The payroll cost of furloughed employee salaries alone – that is, the lost productivity of furloughed workers – was $2.0 billion. Beyond this, the Federal government also incurred other direct costs as a result of the shutdown. Fees went uncollected; IRS enforcement and other program integrity measures were halted; and the Federal government had to pay additional interest on payments that were late because of the shutdown.

Thirdthe shutdown had significant negative effects on the economy. The Council of Economic Advisers has estimated that the combination of the shutdown and debt limit brinksmanship resulted in 120,000 fewer private sector jobs created during the first two weeks of October. And multiple surveys have shown that consumer and business confidence was badly damaged.

The report highlights some of the more direct impacts the shutdown had on the economy by shutting down government services.

For example:

  • Federal permitting and environmental and other reviews were halted, delaying job-creating transportation and energy projects.
  • Import and export licenses and applications were put on hold, negatively impacting trade.
  • Federal loans to small businesses, homeowners, and families in rural communities were put on hold.
  • Private-sector lending to individuals and small businesses was disrupted, because banks and lenders couldn’t access government income and Social Security Number verification services.
  • Travel and tourism was disrupted at national parks and monuments across the country, hurting the surrounding local economies.

Fourththe shutdown impacted millions of Americans who rely on critical programs and services halted by the shutdown.

For example:

  • Hundreds of patients were prevented from enrolling in clinical trials at the National Institutes of Health.
  • Almost $4 billion in tax refunds were delayed.
  • Agencies from the Food and Drug Administration to the Environmental Protection Agency had to cancel health and safety inspections, while the National Transportation Safety Board was unable to investigate airplane accidents in a timely fashion.
  • Critical government-sponsored scientific research was put on hold. Notably, four of the five Nobel prize winning scientists who work for the Federal government were furloughed during the shutdown.

Fifththe shutdown could have a long-term impact on our ability to attract and retain the skilled and driven workforce that the Federal government needs. The shutdown followed a three-year pay freeze for Federal employees, cuts in training and support, and, for hundreds of thousands of workers, administrative furloughs earlier this year because of sequestration. These cuts will make it harder for the government to attract and retain the talent it needs to provide top level service to the American people.

To put it much more simply, it was really, truly awful.

And Americans, for a change, laid the blame (mostly) where it belonged: squarely at the feet of the GOP.

But those short memories were what the Rethuglicans were counting on, as Mitch McConnell seemingly has no qualms about threatening similar action again IF REPUBLICANS TAKE CONTROL OF THE SENATE! You'd think that would be impetus enough to keep anyone with even a modicum of sanity from voting for any member of that party.

But sadly, Mr. Predictor of Election Outcomes Better than Anyone Else himself, Nate Silver's latest pronouncement is "Republicans Remain Slightly Favored To Take Control Of The Senate".

I hope everyone will take a few minutes to read Dave Johnson's apocalyptic tome about what they are threatening to do (and will likely follow through on) should that unthinkable outcome become reality on Nov. 4: "GOP Vows to Dismantle  or Shut Down Government if They Win Senate." Dave joined me on the show this morning to explain why you should be afraid, very afraid, of that prospect (unlike the fake fears the GOP is always ginning up.)

In the first hour, Howie Klein was on with me, as he is each Monday morning, for The Steve Israel Hour, sponsored by Little Debbie. We talked about tomorrow's primaries in FloriDUH, Arizona and Oklahoma; about Andrew Cuomo's running mate, Kathy Hochul and how truly conservative she is, the vote coming before the people of Scotland to decide on their independence, and more..

Tomorrow, we'll talk with Tom Risen of US News and World Report about his friend, the late James Foley. And the Gliberal Goddesses (GottaLaff, Amy Simon and myself) are back with more gliberal giddyness.... Radio or Not!

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Oh Captain, My Captain

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Robin Williams

The world lost a real treasure yesterday. Robin Williams gave us the gift of countless verses, of howls of hilarity, gleeful giggles and even snort-inducing snickers. For the laughs, I'll be forever grateful.

But he also had the ability to get truly serious, and to bring us to tears. His performances in Dead Poets Society, Good Will Hunting, Good Morning Vietnam, Mrs. Doubtfire and even the under-appreciated Jumanji are among my favorites. But there were so many more thought-provoking, risk-taking roles (What Dreams May Come comes to mind) that made up the wealth of work he'll leave behind and insure that, to those of us who never had the privilege of meeting him, he'll live on forever.

I've battled depression since adolescence. I talk about it occasionally on the show because we need to remove the stigma associated with it. I know that Robin Williams battled those demons and, with them, drug addiction - a deadly combination. I only hope that he can now rest in peace.

Today, during our "Gliberal Goddesses" segment, GottaLaff, Amy Simon and I talked about the genius that was Robin Williams. I, as a fan; Amy, as an improv artist who met him once; and Laffy as someone who worked with him in an improv group in LA before he shot to stardom as our favorite Alien, Mork from the planet Ork.

In the first hour, after sharing my thoughts about our collective loss, I spoke about the madness unfolding in Ferguson, MO, where a town is grieving its own tragic loss of an 18 year old at the hands of one who should have been protecting him.

Instead, in what's looking more and more like murder and a cover-up, a police officer shot and killed an unarmed Michael Brown. Of the two stories that have emerged about the shooting, the one told by Dorin Johnson, who was walking with Brown at the time, is the more credible.

“Me and my friend was walking down the street in the middle of the street. And we wasn’t causing any harm to nobody. We had no weapons on us at all. … A police officer squad car pulled up and when he pulled up these were his exact words: ‘Get the F on the sidewalk.’ … He reversed his … car in a manner to where it almost hit us. … He tried to brush his door open but he was so close to us that it ricocheted off us and it bounced back to him, and I guess that, you know, got him a little upset. And at that time ... he didn’t get out the car, he just reached his arm out the window and grabbed my friend around his neck and … as he was trying to choke my friend, he was trying to get away, and the officer then reached out and he grabbed his arm to pull him into the car. … His weapon was drawn and he said, ‘I’ll shoot you’ or ‘I’m going to shoot,’ and in the same moment the first shot went off. And we looked at him, he was shot, and there was blood coming from him, and we took off running, and as we took off running, I ducked and hid for my life because I was afraid for my life … . My friend kept running and he told me to keep running because he feared for me, too. So, as he was running, the officer was trying to get out of the car and once he got out the car he pursued my friend, but his weapon was drawn. Now, he didn’t see any weapon drawn at him or anything like that. I was going for no weapon. His weapon was already drawn when he got out the car. He shot again and once my friend felt that shot, he turned around and put his hands in the air and he started to get down but the officer still approached with his weapon drawn and he fired several more shots, and my friend died. He didn’t say anything to him, he just stood over and was shooting.”

Dorian Johnson spoke with Chris Hayes last night on MSNBC's All In:

The police- via St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar- are pushing a different story.

“Yesterday about noon in the 2900 block of Canfield, a Ferguson police officer had an encounter with two individuals on the street. In fact, one of those individuals … allegedly pushed the police officer back into the car where he physically assaulted the police officer. It is our understanding at this point in the investigation that within the police car there was a struggle over the officer’s weapon. There was at least one shot fired within the car. After that the officer went back, came back out of the car, he exited his vehicle, and there was a shooting that occurred where the officer in fact shot the subject, and … they were fatal injuries. The entire scene from approximately the car door to the shooting is about 35 feet. There were shell casings recovered, the shell casings are all matched to one weapon, that’s the officer’s weapon. There were more than a few shell casings recovered. I cannot say at this time how many times the subject was struck by gunfire. It’s hard to know, it was more than just a couple but I don’t think it was many more than that.”

Protests and clashes between police and protesters continue, as police have still not released the identity of the officer who shot Michael Brown. This is far from over.

This morning, I spoke with George Sheldon, candidate for Attorney General of Florida.  I asked him about the situation in Ferguson and the seeming rise in police militarization and violence, as well as Florida's Stand Your Ground law. The primary is two weeks from today.

We'll be back tomorrow with Susie Madrak of Crooks and Liars, and whatever else the day brings. Stay safe and hug your loved ones, and I'll talk to you tomorrow, radio or not...

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