Archive for murder

Overnight: Lauren Mayer: No More Shootings (Enough is Enough)

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guns Lauren Mayer


Lauren Mayer is a singer/songwriter/pianist who writes comedy songs about everything from Supreme Court decisions to the Kardashians. She proudly supports leftist causes including equal pay, reproductive choice, fair minimum wage, addressing climate change, and marriage equality.
Note: Lauren's CD is now available!! Hear clips or purchase CD/downloads at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/laurenmayer8. It is also on iTunes and will soon be on Amazon!

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"Use of the death penalty by government legitimizes violence as a solution to problems."

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capital punishment death penalty pro-life my ass

The interview with Sister Helen Prejean starts at about 5:30:

"We gotta change this thing."

"'Why are you people so vengeful...?'"

"I cannot turn a switch and say, "YOU are not human like the rest of us, and we can kill you."

"The human being who did that outrageous act is more than that one act in their life... It's a journey to get there."

"Lookin' at bodies... the victim's here, the guy on the gurney here, where are we? What have we accomplished?"

I have never supported the use of the government using murder, aka the death penalty, as punishment for a crime, no matter how heinous the act. It's more costly, it doesn't deter killers from killing, innocent lives (most often poor and non-white lives) are mistakenly snuffed out, and it puts the "good guys" in the same position as the bad guys by putting a living, breathing human being to death (even the scummiest, sickest, most vile beings) when there are other options available.

More violence is not the answer. Inflicting more pain is not the answer.

And with that, here are today's Los Angeles Times letters to the editor, because our voices matter:

Jonah Goldberg admits that whenever perpetrators of especially heinous crimes, such as Oklahoma's Clayton Lockett, are executed, they are "entitled to a relatively painless and humane execution under the law." ("Clayton Lockett: A just execution, regardless," Opinion, May 6).

He also acknowledges that "deterrence may have some validity, but it alone cannot justify the death penalty. It is wrong to kill a man just to send a message to others."

He even says that "innocent people have been sent to death row. Even one such circumstance is outrageous and unacceptable."

Although he explains why he's not persuaded by some arguments against the death penalty and states that he is a death penalty supporter, it is remarkable that he fails to express even a single rationale for that support. If it's revenge, I think he should have the courage to admit it and then present a justification for his belief.

Don Payne

Santa Ana

***

In his column on the botched Oklahoma execution, Goldberg goes over the arguments for and against the death penalty. Unfortunately, he did not include what I consider the most compelling argument against its use.

The use of the death penalty by government legitimizes violence as a solution to problems. This endorsement of violence sets a tone in society that is counterproductive and damaging.

Murder is a problem for society. That we attempt to solve the murder problem by killing people reflects the same simplistic logic used by so many murderers.

Stephanie Neiman presented a problem to Lockett: She refused to say she wouldn't report Lockett to the police. He tried to solve his problem by killing Neiman.

Solving problems by killing didn't work for Lockett, and it has not worked for society.

John La Grange

Solana Beach

Here's another interview with Sister Helen Prejean that is a must-see. She discusses lack of transparency and also how we "imitate the worst behavior" by "killing our criminals in order to be safe."

 

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Overnight: The Senate Decided to Do Nothing [about gun violence]

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Overnight gun violence

This is a Blunt from our archive in April, 2013 about the Senate's inaction on gun control.

To read how to contribute to a Blunt, please go here.

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GOP Maine Representative Hits New Low In Suggesting It's Okay To Rape Women

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If you can't beat abortion legislation, rape the women. That's a loose translation of the inflammatory remarks made by Maine state Rep. Lawrence Lockman (R-Amherst). Via Raw Story:

If a woman has (the right to an abortion), why shouldn’t a man be free to use his superior strength to force himself on a woman?” Lockman said. “At least the rapist’s pursuit of sexual freedom doesn’t (in most cases) result in anyone’s death.”

"Rape doesn't (in most cases) result in anyone's death?" Whoa there, Mr. Representative. Are you kidding? Some things like psychological scarring and permanent physical damage result that can be far worse than death. And suicides by rape victims are statistically significant according to Suicide.org.

-Rape has long-term emotional consequences that can lead to suicide.
-It is quite common for rape victims to suffer from depression.
-And untreated depression is the number one cause for suicide.
-About 33% of rape victims have suicidal thoughts.
-About 13% of rape victims will attempt suicide.
-Suicide attempts may occur years after the rape.

Reality calling Rep. Lockman. Please come in. It's as if this Neanderthal is saying, if I can't stop you from getting an abortion, then you can't stop me from raping you. If you get pregnant, you have the legal way to get rid of the fetus. So tough noogies.

Rep. Lockman should be under a psychologist's care. He's not safe out on the streets and certainly not safe sitting in the state capital as a voting member of the Maine legislature. He's not just a one issue nutjob, anti-abortion. Here's a bit more about him:

In one of the quotes posted on the blog, Lockman falsely suggested HIV and AIDS could be spread by bed sheets and mosquitos, and he also said the progressive movement helped spread the virus by claiming “the practice of sodomy is a legitimate alternative lifestyle, rather than a perverted and depraved crime against humanity.”

“[Lockman is a] disturbed individual who holds some of the most abhorrent beliefs ever heard from a public official in Maine,” said Ben Grant, the state’s Democratic Party chairman in a statement Tuesday.

More and more these wackadoos are coming to light. And they aren't all made of the same whole cloth. But they seem to all have on thing in common -- they're Republicans. As we saw in Arizona with their recent smokescreen anti-gay law (vetoed by Gov. Jan Brewer), the right wing, evangelical fraction is still out there, and still active.

Their old ideas just won't die. Perhaps like the old soldiers of Gen. MacArthur's day, over time they will just fade away.

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George Zimmerman: "I certainly was a victim," Obama administration's "scapegoat"

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Via TPM, video of CNN's Chris Cuomo interviewing Trayvon Martin's killer, George Zimmerman:

Cuomo: If you could go back and do it again, you had said you would have stayed home that night.

Zimmerman: I would stay home.

Cuomo: So that both of you would still be alive today.

Zimmerman: That’s a presumption I can’t make, I don’t know what would have happened. I could have gotten in a car accident when I left, you know?

Cuomo: But you wouldn't have wound up killing Trayvon Martin if you had your way?

Zimmerman: He probably wouldn’t have ended up attacking me either if I would have stayed home.

In other words, had he stayed home-- or even stayed in his car-- Martin wouldn't have had to defend himself against a stalker carrying a loaded gun.

George Zimmerman also seemed to have trouble articulating exactly what he might say to Trayvon Martin's family, given the opportunity. When  asked, he was literally tongue-tied.

He did say this, however:

"No, I certainly was a victim when I was having my head bashed into the concrete and my nose broken and beaten, I wouldn’t say I was not a victim."

Zimmerman went on to talk about "the miscarriage of justice that happened to me." Yes, him, because, you see, Georgie's the real victim here. Not the unarmed teenager who was gunned down, nor the dead teen's grieving family. You, you, you, it's all about you:

it's not all about youCuomo: What was the miscarriage of justice?

Zimmerman: The fact that two law enforcement entities stated that I had acted within the laws of our nation, in self defense.

Cuomo: You don't think it was about the law?

Zimmerman: I know it wasn’t, yes.

Cuomo: And what does that make you?

Zimmerman: Like a scapegoat.

Cuomo: A scapegoat for?

Zimmerman: The government, the President, the attorney general.

Cuomo: They would be scapegoating you, why? Just to show that they're taking a position on something that matters to a lot of people?

Zimmerman: I don’t know what they’re thinking or why they’re thinking it, all I know is that is that they’re doing it. I don’t know what agenda they have.

They're after me because, Benghazi!!!!!

Here's one comment I noticed under the TPM post:

alyoshakaramazov
7 Minutes Ago:

George,
STFU.

Sincerely,
God

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FBI Admits Complicity In Record Levels Of Criminal Activity

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FBI ID

This sounds like a startling statistic to me. According to HUFFPO:

In a Jan. 14, 2013, letter to Justice Department officials, obtained by The Huffington Post through a Freedom of Information Act request, FBI officials disclosed that its 56 field offices authorized informants to break the law at least 5,939 times during the 2012 calendar year. USA Today reported earlier this year that the bureau allowed its informants to break the law 5,658 times in 2011.

Think about it.  Nearly 6,000 crimes. That's a lot of criminal activity for the FBI to turn it's back on. And keep in mind, that's the number of crimes the bureau is admitting to. How many more were there they complicit in that somehow didn't get reported?

What's also a bit startling is that the number of "ordained" or "forgiven" infractions of the law increased 5% from the year before. Did this substantial bump result in greater safety for us? The FBI doesn't seem to keep stats on that -- we really don't know what the ratio of crimes allowed to major busts is statistically -- if it can even be quantified.

But if I'm a victim of one of these FBI approved crimes, I'd sure hate to think the G-men were covering it up. Or worse, condoning that crime ahead of time, knowing I or someone else would be a victim.

To get a glimpse of the oversight to these crimes the FBI allows, the following might be an eye-opener:

The breakdown of how many crimes were authorized by each individual FBI field office were redacted from the 2012 report, which is known as the Otherwise Illegal Activity Report. The FBI's fellow federal law enforcement agencies -- the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives -- do not track how often their sources commit crimes.

There must be a set of guidelines on this Otherwise Illegal Activity Report. And I'm sure there are some sacrifices that we, the public are called upon to make (even involuntarily) for the public good, but it sure would be nice to know where the line is drawn and what kind of oversight is mandated. Is it just non-violent crimes? Is it physical assaults?

Actually, it goes much farther than small infractions. It even includes murder.

Whitey Bulger

...the Boston field office allowed mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger to continue to operate his crime ring because he was providing information to the bureau.

Whitey Bulger, just in case you missed it, was indicted and found guilty this year on 19 murder charges. Nineteen. And many of them were committed during his time as an informant. How far should we allow this program to go unbridled? Where do we draw the line? After someone commits one ordained murder? Three? Nineteen?

"It sounds like a lot, but you have to keep it in context," former top FBI official Shawn Henry told the newspaper. "This is not done in a vacuum. It's not done randomly. It's not taken lightly."

So the FBI says this is not taken lightly? Bulger committed at least 19 murders? I beg to differ with FBI Official Henry. They absolutely did take it lightly. So lightly they didn't care at all. I guess he was just a bad guy killing other bad guys -- and women. And he didn't just kill them, he had them tortured, then dismembered and tossed away like garbage.

To top all of that off, Whitey, for all the FBI's oversight, slipped away and disappeared for 16 years. So much for things not being done in a vacuum. Maybe it they really had been, he wouldn't have been given so much rope to hang so many other people.

Just like with the NSA spying, it would be better to set the rules BEFORE innocent people become the victims, not afterward.

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Identifying Rapist Lands Victim In Jail

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Norma Esparza

Sometimes justice gets it right. Other times they get it all wrong. Here's an mind-boggling example of the latter. Now there may be some sticky stuff to this story, but the devil is in the details.

Some 18 years ago, a woman named Norma Esparza, now 39, was a victim of rape. She confessed this to her then boyfriend Gianni Van, though she was afraid to go to the police to make a report for fear she'd be made the victim, as so many women/men before her. Esparza was forced by her boyfriend to identify her accused attacker. They went to a bar where this attack has taken place and she pointed out Gonzalo Ramirez to Van. From there he took justice into his own hands.

DailyMailOnline:

Van went on to get revenge for the sexual assault by kidnapping Mr Ramirez and stabbing him to death.

Ms Esparza, from California now living in France, today proclaimed her innocence before she was taken into custody in Orange County.

This story isn't quite that simple, though. Esparza didn't learn until recently that Ramirez had been killed. What she did know was this:

She claims to have been taken by Van to see a bloodied, but alive, Ramirez after which she was threatened with a gun to make her promise to stay silent.

Van told her they had released Ramirez but Esparza learned when she was interviewed by police weeks later that he had been killed

She claims to have been taken by Van to see a bloodied, but alive, Ramirez after which she was threatened with a gun to make her promise to stay silent.

Van told her they had released Ramirez but Esparza learned when she was interviewed by police weeks later that he had been killed, Mr Mancillas (Esparza's current husband) said.

After this she was pressured to marry Van so she could not be bound to testify against him.

She fled to Europe where her education continued until she got her doctorate and became a professor. She stayed in Europe to teach, got divorced from Mr.Van and since married. She's now the mother of a four year old daughter.

Things seemed to be fine until she returned to the US for a visit recently. Upon entering, she was arrested and charged with manslaughter.

Esparz and daughter

The mother-of-one has now been jailed after rejecting a manslaughter plea deal offered by prosecutors who allege she encouraged the murder of Ramirez by pointing him out to Van at a Santa Ana bar 18 years ago.

This just seems to be the story of an innocent victim who's life has gone from bad to very bad to even worse. But is this her fault or the fault of the system that makes reporting a crime such a horrific ordeal?

Ms. Esparza should have taken the risks and probable humiliation that millions are made to endure and reported this degrading crimes. But she didn't. She merely pointed him out to her boyfriend and believed he and some friends had beaten him for his crime and he was let go. She didn't give her boyfriend an order, a gun or knife and dispatch him to the ultimate revenge. This wasn't an episode of Dexter.

Murder is wrong. Period. But arresting the victim for identifying the alleged rapist, then accusing her of complicity in his murder is not the way to improve the already sagging confidence any victim of any crime has in police and their procedures. The accused rapist deserved his opportunity to defend himself in court -- not to be a murder victim based on deranged vigilantes. But if we want this kind of thing to stop, maybe it's time to look at why women, and to be fair, men, are reluctant to report such heinous crimes.

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