John David "Roy" Atchison, the Florida federal prosecutor arrested in Detroit and charged with planning to have sex with a five year old girl, and who unsuccessfully tried to commit suicide days later, has now succeeded.
He hanged himself this morning at the federal prison in Milan, where he was taken after trying to commit suicide last month at Sanilac County Jail, authorities said.
Officials said Atchison, 53, of Gulf Breeze, Fla., had been housed in solitary confinement and was under close supervision, adding that he had shown no signs of despondency.
Very sad. If the charges were true, this was a man in desperate need of psychiatric help. Our system, it seems, is only geared towards punishment.
They don't even try to avoid hypocrisy.
I'm trying to get my taxes ready for the accountant. I've been working on them for days and it's crunch time.
So, here's an open thread for you. If anyone writes diaries, I'll add a link to them here.
Troy Davis is on Georgia's death row. He may be innocent.
Tuesday is Troy's birthday. Check out the Troy Davis "Innocence Matters" Video Project.
Troy Davis' birthday is October 9th and to mark this occasion, a coalition of global supporters have organized this video project to wish Troy a 'Happy Birthday' and to reaffirm to the state of Georgia that 'Innocence Matters!
The Troy video project is simple. Using a webcam, camera phone, camcorder or any other recording device, simply record as creatively as possible a positive video of 60-seconds or less wishing Troy a ‘Happy Birthday’ while reaffirming to the state of Georgia that the global support network behind Troy believes Innocence Matters!
There are 35 videos so far. For the non-video savvy, there's also the NCADP's action alert page for Troy with the ability to send a letter.
You can read Troy's story here.
Two weekends ago I wrote a couple of diaries about the free market as a failed policy and failed[...]
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A Nail Through the Heart, by Timothy Hallinan (HarperCollins, $24.95) This is certainly a book that lives up to it's title. While giving us a glimpse into Thailand's inner society and soul, it manages to convey the grandeur and cruelty of Bangkok's extreme poverty and sex trade. It is also a completely perfect mystery, right down to the 'the Blonde walked into my office' conceit. I've been a big fan of Hallinan's work since his Simeon Grist/L.A. detective series. After too long a hiatus, the Poke Rafferty series will definitely satisfy.
"One reason people come here, as I believe you said in your book," Hofstedler continues comfortably, "is that here it is possible to behave openly in ways that one would hide at home."
"I wrote that?" Rafferty says.
"It makes you wonder, does it not," Hofstedler says, "What kind of behavior one would hide in Bangkok."
Poke Rafferty is the successful author of the "Looking for Trouble" Travel Series, and now the publisher's attention-getting advance has brought him to Bangkok to write Looking for Trouble in Thailand. Unfortunately, that is not enough money to let him marry former Patpong go-go dancer Rose, or adopt Miaow, the eight year old gum seller he has rescued from the street.
Persuaded by his ally on the local police force, Arthit, that taking the Blonde's case and finding her missing Australian Uncle will get him both "owed favors" and needed monies, Poke must take to the streets and bars that no longer lure him. Peeling this onion of Bangkok two months after the tsunami reveals dance girls, abandoned children, sadistic sex tourists and Cambodian killers that mingle with the "hungry ghosts" from that great wave.
I must say, one of the things that make this such a haunting read are the echoing chapter titles. I love chapter titles when they are so finely tuned as these.
Penitent Liberal Lesbian and I recently had the honor of attending Tim's workshop, "Finishing Your Novel". You can explore that inspirational session at his website, Writer's Resources.
A Nail Through the Heart is available at Jackson Street Books and Fine Independent Bookstores everywhere.
democommie????ой was unable to help in the writing of this book report as we have assigned him to procure a sound system for next week. I told him we need an amp that goes to 11.
SPECIAL BULLETIN TO ALL SEATTLE TROOPS: On Thursday, Oct 11th, the hermans will stalk Jackson Street Books. At 5 pm, the hermans will rock the parking lot and sign copies of Stalking America: the Diary of an Unknown Rock and Roll Band (Running Press, $17.95). Come join us for an insider look at an up-and-coming indie band. If you can't make it, contact us to arrange for a "personalized" copy. Considering it's the hermans, who knows what you'll get!
I will be serving my signature dish, "Pigs-inna-Blanket" and other tasty treats!
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Given the plethora of African-American websites, articles/essays throughout mainstream media, the[...]
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(h/t Heather) Download (291) | Play (402) Download (0) | Play (0)Jon Stewart sits down with the former assistant attorney general of the Office of Legal Counsel, Jack Goldsmith, to discuss his new book, The Terror Presidency. While we’ve heard the stories before, it is still so frightening to hear the insider’s take on the Machiavellian [...]
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Given the choice, the wingnuts always choose Blackwater over our own troops. They're not on the same side, and haven't been ever.
“It was obviously excessive, it was obviously wrong,” said the U.S. military official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the incident remains the subject of several investigations. “The civilians that were fired upon, they didn’t have any weapons to fire back at them. And none of the IP (Iraqi Police) or any of the local security forces fired back at them.”
The whole "screw them" thing four years ago was exactly that -- the wingers were more outraged over four Blackwater mercenaries killed than they were about the five Marines that had died that very same day.
I was pissed that the sacrifice of those Marines merited less attention that those of a private, profit-motivated, unaccountable militia.
It's always been clear where the US military has stood in regards to the mercenaries. Soldiers complain about them:
"They act like they're God's gift to combat operations" complained one soldier to me, "Swanning around with weapons and equipment every bit as powerful as anything in our armoury, but without any of the legal framework that we have to work within. They're rude, aggressive and to be honest, their attitudes piss us guys off so I dread to think how the Iraqis view them".
The top brass have been complaining about their ill effect for years:
In the post-9/11 world, demand for the commandos is not only soaring within the military. Private firms and government organizations - including the CIA - are luring away troops with bigger salaries.
"It is a very lucrative opportunity right now for special operations folks to get out and take very high-paying jobs" with private security firms, says General Brown. A 20-year veteran leaving Special Operations receives about $23,000 in retirement pay, but can earn $100,000 to $200,000 in private industry, military officials say.
With no end to the demand in sight, the military must carefully allocate SOF while increasing their ranks. To fill the current gap, it is accepting added risks with less experienced forces.
And if anyone cares (usually they don't), the Iraqis have been complaining about them for years. This was from back in 2005:
Soldiers have for some time been angered by the salaries earned by the estimated 20,000 armed contractors working in Iraq, many of whom are ex-servicemen.
It is common for them to earn £750 a day. They provide protection for senior government officials and reconstruction projects.
They are even more unpopular with Iraqis. Interior ministry officials say at least 12 Iraqi civilians are killed by contractors every week in the capital.
"Enough is enough," said an official at the interior ministry. "We are looking at ways to tighten weapons licenses, and to punish the worst cases. The culture of impunity must stop."
A senior member of one private security firm in Baghdad said: "Like it or not we are combatants. If our guarantees are removed, we would have to leave."
But given the choice between the mercenaries who impede the war effort (and profit the longer it is prolongued), and our troops trying to win, Republicans and their apologists always side with the mercenaries.
We're so used to thinking of furry mammals as the most advanced branches of evolutionary tree, that we sometimes forget mammals are not the last of the terrestrial vertebrates to develop. Our little, whiskered ancestors had already been crawling around beneath the feet of the dinosaurs for several million years before the first bird launched itself into the Late Jurassic skies.
Considering their relatively late arrival on the evolutionary stage, perhaps it's not surprising that birds have some pretty advanced features. In fact, it seems that birds may have their own built in GPS. Like many other animals, birds have an ability to sense the magnetic field. However, recent experiments point to the idea that they can literally see the orientation of the magnetic field. Besides determining the compounds in the optical system that support this ability, experiments also show that birds have difficulty orienting in environments where the lighting was limited to yellow or red light.
These findings strongly support the hypothesis that migratory birds use their visual system to perceive the reference compass direction of the geomagnetic field and that migratory birds "see" the reference compass direction provided by the geomagnetic field.
While we have no way of knowing for certain (at the moment), this suggests that birds actually see some kind of indicator -- thinking of it as a big orange north arrow might not actually be too far off.
Birds can also be remarkably clever. We recently mourned the passing of the highly verbal African Gray Parrot, Alex, but he was far from the only indicator that "bird brained" may be a compliment. Crows can not only imitate sounds, but use sticks and thorns as tools. In captivity, they've even "manufactured" tools from bits of wire. Now some lightweight "crow cams" have for the first time allowed a group of wild birds to be followed through their daily activities. Wild crows were seen to not only "improve" bits of twig or grass to make tools, they didn't use them once and forget them.
The team saw two male crows using sticks and dry blades of grass to probe around on the ground. The birds held the tools in their beaks and even carried them from place to place, suggesting they might hold on to especially "good" tools.
It's worth following the link to watch the in-flight footage from a crow cam. Though it's not exactly a bird's-eye view. More of a bird's... bottom view.
Finally, remember the kid in Jurassic Park who dismissively refers to the velociraptor as a "turkey?" Turns out that kid was on to something. Not only was the velociraptor feathered, its bones show the attachment knobs for quill feathers, the kind of feathers used by birds who are strong fliers. No one is ready to think that velociraptors, who had short arms, could actually get airborne in anything more than a barnyard chicken hop (turkeys can actually fly quite well), but it certainly affects our mental image of the creature.
What would someone think if they saw such a creature alive today? According to Mark Norell, a Curator in the Division of Paleontology at the American Museum of Natural History and co-author on the study, "if animals like velociraptor were alive today our first impression would be that they were just very unusual looking birds."
Drawing the line between dinosaur and bird is not only difficult, it's really just a matter of semantics. I have a copy of the Berlin specimen of Archaeopteryx on my wall (next to copy of the Rosetta Stone). While it's easy to tell the curious "it's a fossil of the first bird," it's more accurate to say "it's the first known member of a family that includes both many dinosaurs and modern birds that might have been capable of sustained flight."
Now, if someone could come up with the research clever enough to figure out what song archaeopteryx sang, or whether velociraptor could make tools, that would be darned cool.