I promise I'll write about music again this week but I've got another of a what-the-hell-is-going-on topics? Like yesterday, I just do not understand these crazy people who are killing others.
Las Vegas police said they have tied the teens to at least three hit-and-run incidents on the morning of August 14.
They believe the death of 64-year-old Andreas Rene Probst, a former police chief in California, was the final one.
Video shot from the front passenger seat shows the vehicle approaching Probst from behind while he was riding near the curb on an otherwise traffic-free road.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, hit his a**,” the other teenager says as the driver veers into the bike lane behind Probst.
The retired police chief is then struck off his bike and thrown against the windshield.
“Damn, that n**** got knocked out!” the passenger can then be heard saying. “Oh, sh**, we need to get out of here,” the panicked driver replies.
A final image from the moving car shows Probst on the ground next to the curb as the teenagers drive off while laughing.
I am very strongly opposed to the death penalty. Have been my whole life. But when I read about stuff like that, yeah, I can understand why some people support it.
Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Qualcomm and its subsidiaries have been the recipient of several dozen defense and homeland security contracts during the past two decades, according to federal contracting records reviewed by Raw Story.
WASHINGTON – In a letter sent Sept. 18, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) is calling on Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville to lift his hold on the routine promotion of military general and flag officers.
“The line in the sand for the VFW is simple: Political disputes must be handled by politicians – not within the ranks of the all-volunteer force. Sen. Tuberville’s hold on these routine promotions has consequences up and down the active-duty force that will take years to fix,” said VFW Commander-in-Chief Duane Sarmiento. “By sending this letter, the VFW is making our voice very clear – this is not the way Congress should do business.”
As of today, the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps no longer have confirmed heads of their services, with hundreds of other routine uniformed promotions stalled behind them, due to Sen. Tuberville’s refusal to allow confirmations to proceed without unnecessary bureaucratic procedures. VFW members have shared their own experiences and frustrations with how the force is being affected, to include key leaders and staff holding multiple collateral positions, stalled decision-making in critical areas, as well as delayed family and staff relocations.
“One of the VFW’s top national security priorities is preserving the all-volunteer force,” said VFW Washington Office Executive Director Ryan Gallucci in the letter. “At a time of military recruiting challenges, the instability caused by this hold will have far-reaching consequences for the brave Americans who volunteer to serve in today’s military and those who may consider future military service.”
This is not the first letter sent by the VFW on the issue. In July, a letter demanding the confirmation of critical military positions was sent to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Later that same month, VFW members voted at the 2023 VFW National Convention in Phoenix, Ariz., that preserving the all-volunteer force was the 124-year-old organization’s top national security priority.
“The VFW called on the Senate to resolve this matter earlier this summer and now we call on you directly to end this hold before we set the very dangerous precedent of harming American service members as leverage in Washington political battles,” said Gallucci.
In a survey conducted Sept. 7 – 9, VFW members overwhelmingly voiced that political civilian leaders should be held accountable for disagreements over policy, that politicians should not be able to harm the troops over political disagreements, and that political decisions that harm the troops will affect the decisions of VFW members in upcoming elections. Last week, VFW members took to Capitol Hill, sharing the results of the survey with their legislators, many of whom echoed their concerns over the hold having a dire impact on national security.
“Critics have said our survey seemed loaded, but to the VFW, the choice is straightforward: Can politicians use uniformed service members and military families as leverage in political disputes? In the context of the all-volunteer force, the VFW says no,” said Gallucci when asked about the survey. “To promote the effective civilian control of our military, our nation has been very deliberate to frame the all-volunteer military as a non-partisan and trusted institution that transcends party politics.”
VFW members have also expressed their worries Sen. Tuberville’s hold on the confirmation process will not only affect those whose promotions are currently stalled, but also compel emerging leaders to leave the military for more suitable civilian opportunities.
“It’s easy to look at this issue and think that only generals are affected, but the military doesn’t just hire generals off the street,” said Sarmiento. “Generals start at the bottom and choose to grow in the military, just like everyone else who wears the uniform. If you’re a major, a captain, or an ensign today, are you sticking around to see if this happens to you to?”
The survey was completed by more than 7,000 VFW members representing every state and overseas territory where VFW members reside. Complete survey results are:
- Who should be held accountable for disagreements over policies in Washington, D.C.?
- Political Civilian Leaders: 87%
- Uniformed Service Members: 13%
- Do you believe politicians should be able to harm the troops over political disagreements?
- No: 91%
- Yes: 9%
- Will political decisions that harm the troops affect your decisions in upcoming elections?
- Yes: 90%
- No: 10%
“The world is still a dangerous place and brave Americans remain stationed around the world, intent on keeping these dangers far from our shores. This is why the VFW is calling on you to stop this dangerous game,” Gallucci concluded in the letter. “Games may belong on the football field, but not in halls of the U.S. Senate.”
U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Alabama, is causing division inside the Republican party and more criticism from military personnel as he continues his blockade of military nominations in protest of the Department of Defense’s abortion policy.
According to Politico, Tuberville’s hold has upset Republican congress members, particularly Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, a former Navy SEAL Officer. Crenshaw texted his allies that he is “at a point where I’m going to tear apart (if asked) coach/Senator/non-veteran Tuberville for personally attacking service members who have spent almost 30 years serving our country.”
Crenshaw also said that Tuberville’s actions are having “worsening consequences.” Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, said that Tuberville is “paralyzing the Department of Defense,” and creating a “national security issue.”
“The idea that one man in the Senate can hold this up for months — I understand maybe promotions, but nominations? — is paralyzing the Department of Defense,” McCaul said. “I think that is a national security problem and a national security issue.”
The Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs for Arab World Affairs, Ambassador Ahmed Abdul Rahman Al-Bakr, held a meeting today at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ headquarters with Ambassador Al-Manhal Al-Safi, who serves as the Ambassador of the Republic of Iraq to Kuwait.
During this meeting, Ambassador Al-Bakr formally delivered Kuwait’s protest memorandum.
The protest was lodged by the State of Kuwait in response to the content of a recent ruling issued by the Federal Supreme Court of the Republic of Iraq.
Yesterday, the US State Dept issued a statement ("The text of the following statement was released by the Governments of the United States of America and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states.") and this is the section on Iraq and Kuwait:
The Ministers stressed the importance of Iraq’s commitment to Kuwait’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and respect for international conventions and UN resolutions, especially UNSC Resolution 833 regarding the demarcation of the Kuwait-Iraq boundary. They called for the complete demarcation of the Kuwait-Iraq maritime boundary beyond boundary point 162 and called on the Government of Iraq to expeditiously resolve the domestic legal status of the 2012 Kuwait-Iraq Agreement to regulate maritime navigation in Khor Abdullah and ensure that the agreement remains in force. The Ministers renewed their support for UNSC Resolution 2107 (2013) regarding the transfer of the file related to repatriation of all Kuwaitis, including missing Kuwaitis, and return of Kuwaiti property, including the national archives, to the UN Mission to Iraq (UNAMI), and expressed their hope that Iraq will continue to cooperate to ensure progress in this file. They called on Iraq and the UN to exert maximum efforts to reach a resolution of all the issues involved.
When ex-South Park writer Toby Morton set out to lampoon Moms for Liberty with a parody website this summer, he expected to receive hate mail.
On Morton’s MomsForLiberties.com, visitors are greeted with swastikas encircling the “parental rights” juggernaut’s logo, a leadership page that boasts Hercules actor turned conservative pundit Kevin Sorbo as their minivan driver, and a listing of items the moms have “banned for fun” including the board game Sorry. “Those who are taught to say ‘sorry’ are weak,” the fake site for the far-right group declares. “NEVER apologize for your actions because your actions are probably warranted if you’re white.”
But Morton didn’t anticipate how serious this project could be. Fans sent Morton a barrage of messages detailing how Moms for Liberty (M4L) was altering their school boards and more than a few tips about its particularly egregious members, who call themselves “joyful warriors.”
Funded and aligned with right-wing donors and organizations like the Leadership Institute, M4L has been at the forefront of a national movement to ban books (or even yearbooks) containing race, gender, LGBTQ themes, and sexual content. The group’s second annual summit in July attracted mass protests and campaign stops from presidential candidates including Donald Trump, DeSantis, Vivek Ramaswamy, and Nikki Haley.
For Morton, what started as comic relief is morphing into a fundraising campaign, one that will create pages for each state. “My plan is to disrupt this hate group for as long as possible with billboards, pamphlets, background information and other tactics,” Morton said. “They have no interest in truly educating children and would rather actively prevent them from learning the true history of our country. I have a lot of support around the country so I’ll continue updating my website about this group in each state so people are fully aware.”
Ideas are powerful. That’s why intellectual freedom is protected by the First Amendments — and it's also why sometimes governments try to suppress them.
For nearly 100 years, the ACLU has fought to make sure Americans have the right to read what they want. Despite our many victories, there are still misguided attempt to ban books. The American Library Association keeps track — some of the most frequently challenged books from 2015 include the best seller Fifty Shades of Grey along with Fun Home and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (both of which were turned into Tony Award-winning Broadway shows, by the way).
But you can’t keep a good book down. See the menu below for more on those “dangerous” collections of words.
Again, and again, the movement to ban books is driven by a vocal minority demanding censorship. At the same time, a 2022 poll found that over 70% of parents oppose book banning. Yet the bans continue. Many public school districts find themselves in a bind. They face threats and political pressure, along with parental fears and anxieties surrounding the books on their school shelves. School Boards, administrators, teachers, and librarians are told in some cases to “err on the side of caution” in the books they make available. Too often, they do just that.
These efforts to chill speech are part of the ongoing nationwide “Ed Scare” — a campaign to foment anxiety and anger with the goal of suppressing free expression in public education. As book bans escalate, coupled with the proliferation of legislative efforts to restrict teaching about topics such as race, gender, American history, and LGBTQ+ identities, the freedom to read, learn, and think continues to be undermined for students.
Below, PEN America updates its tally and analysis of book bans during the first half of the 2022-2023 school year, from July to December 2022. This research builds on PEN America’s 2022 report, Banned in the USA: The Growing Movement to Censor Books in Schools, which covered book bans from July 2021 to June 2022.
- During the first half of the 2022-23 school year PEN America’s Index of School Book Bans lists 1,477 instances of individual books banned, affecting 874 unique titles, an increase of 28 percent compared to the prior six months, January – June 2022. That is more instances of book banning than recorded in either the first or second half of the 2021-22 school year. Over this six-month timeline, the total instances of book bans affected over 800 titles; this equates to over 100 titles removed from student access each month.
- This school year, instances of book bans are most prevalent in Texas, Florida, Missouri, Utah, and South Carolina.
These bans are driven by a confluence of local actors and state-level
policy. The implications of bans in these five states are far-reaching,
as policies and practices are modeled and replicated across the country.
- Overwhelmingly, book banners continue to target stories by and about people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals. In
this six-month period, 30% of the unique titles banned are books about
race, racism, or feature characters of color. Meanwhile, 26% of unique
titles banned have LGBTQ+ characters or themes.
- Due to cases where
long lists of books are removed for further investigation, bans this
school year are increasingly affecting a wider swath of titles,
including those that portray violence and abuse (44%), discuss topics of
health and wellbeing (38%), and cover death and grief (30%). This
illuminates how censorship impacts a wide array of books, particularly
as school districts respond to vague legislation by removing large
numbers of books prior to any formal review.
- The process behind book challenges and bans is evolving. During the 2021-22 school year, parent-led groups
coordinated to advance book censorship. These groups pressured
districts to remove books without following their own policies, even in
some cases, removing books without reading them.
That trend has continued in the 2022-23 school year, but it has also
been supercharged by a new source of pressure: state legislation. School
districts in many states are reacting to new laws that dictate the
types of books that can even be in schools, or what kinds of policies they have to follow to add new books and review their collections.
- Books are more frequently labeled “pornographic” or “indecent.” Dozens
of books were targeted for removal in the 2021-22 school year on the
basis that they contained sexual content. But since last summer, this
framing has become an increasing focus of activists and politicians to
justify removing books that do not remotely fit the well-established
legal and colloquial definitions of “pornography.” Rhetoric about “porn in schools”
has also been advanced as justification for the passage or introduction
of new state laws, some of which would bar any books with sexual
content and could easily sweep up a wide swath of literature and
- The full impact of the book ban movement is greater than can be counted, as “wholesale bans” are restricting access to untold numbers of books in classrooms and school libraries. This school year, numerous states enacted “wholesale bans” in which entire classrooms and school libraries have been suspended, closed, or emptied of books, either permanently or temporarily. This is largely because teachers and librarians in several states have been directed to catalog entire collections for public scrutiny within short timeframes, under threat of punishment from new, vague laws. These “wholesale bans,” have involved the culling of books that were previously available to students, in ways that are impossible to track or quantify.
I’m an English teacher.
That’s what I told myself and others for five years as I began working to make my community and state a better, more equitable place to live. Even after founding the Missouri Equity Education Partnership, I spoke in front of our state legislators and pronounced that I was “just an English teacher.”
It took me five years to arrive at the understanding that although teaching gave me some essential tools that prepared me for this work, I am an organizer. My driving purpose has been to teach and empower others to step into their role as organizers, too. As part of my work with Unite Against Book Bans, I hope to encourage others to embrace this potential in themselves.
When people tell me that they don’t know if they can be an organizer, I ask if they have the ability to do any of the following:
- Create goals
- Think about action steps to achieve those goals
- Work with others collaboratively toward a common goal
- Explain directions well to others
- Accept constructive feedback
- Collect and analyze data
- Think critically about complex issues
Many times, their answer is yes to enough of those traits that they begin realizing they can use those skills to effectuate change in their communities. At this challenging point in our history, individuals willing to step up and use these skills are exactly what we need. We must address the challenges we face—not just book bans but anti diversity, equity, and inclusion policies; attempts to whitewash history; anti-LGBTQ+ laws; the removal of reproductive rights and affirmative action; and so much more. We need more people working together to ensure the future of our democracy. We need YOU.
So the next time you are faced with book bans— or anything else that will negatively impact your family, friends, and neighbors— remember that you have all that you need to become an organizer and advocate. Don’t forget to visit the Unite Against Book Bans Action Toolkit for resources to support your efforts.