Sunday, June 11, 2017

Last Call For Our Little Domestic Terrorism Problem, Con't

Remember Brandon Russell's arrest last month?  The white supremacist neo-Nazi convert with the framed picture of Tim McVeigh, with the explosive-making materials in his room who was arrested for shooting his roommates?

A man accused of shooting his two roommates Friday in a Tampa Palms apartment told police he shared neo-Nazi beliefs with the men until he converted to Islam then killed them because they showed disrespect for his faith. 
The revelations weren't over. 
Officers found a garage stocked with bomb materials as they arrived to investigate the double homicide, leading to federal explosive charges against Brandon Russell — a Florida National Guardsman and admitted neo-Nazi who kept a framed photo of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh on his dresser.

Good news, he's out on bond because a Florida judge doesn't believe he's a threat.

Brandon Russell is capable of making a bomb — and he admitted doing so.

Officials believe he also participated in neo-Nazi chat rooms where he threatened to kill people and blow up places.

Investigators found guns, ammunition and white supremacist propaganda in his bedroom, court records say. A framed photograph of convicted Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh was on his dresser.

Prosecutors believe those reasons should keep Russell behind bars while he awaits trial on federal charges. A judge, however, disagreed and decided that Russell can be released on bond.

In a ruling Friday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas McCoun III of a federal-district court in Tampa said he does not believe there’s “clear and convincing evidence” that Russell is a threat to the community. Russell, 21, was charged last month with possession of unregistered destructive devices and unlawful storage of explosive material.

Guess he wasn't brown enough to be a terrorist.  The again if he was, he'd be dead by now.

Russian To Judgment, Con't

The Trump regime is running scared after last week's testimony by fired FBI Director James Comey, and the Trumps are now going all-out to discredit Comey.  Only one problem: it blew up in their faces.

Soon after former FBI director James B. Comey testified that President Trump told him that he “hoped” the FBI would drop its investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn, the president's personal lawyer flatly denied that accusation and said Trump “never, in form or substance, directed or suggested that Mr. Comey stop investigating anyone.”

But Donald Trump Jr. — the president's eldest son — seemed to confirm Comey's version of events in a Saturday interview on Fox News as he tried to emphasize the fact that his father did not directly order Comey to stop investigating Flynn.

When he tells you to do something, guess what? There's no ambiguity in it, there's no, 'Hey, I'm hoping,'" Trump said. “You and I are friends: 'Hey, I hope this happens, but you've got to do your job.' That's what he told Comey. And for this guy as a politician to then go back and write a memo: 'Oh, I felt threatened.' He felt so threatened — but he didn't do anything.”

Trump also said that Comey's testimony “vindicated” the president and that everything in it was “basically ridiculous.”

“I think he's proven himself to be a liar in all of this. I think he's proven himself to be a dishonest man of bad character,” Trump said.

His comment came during an interview with Jeanine Pirro, a former New York district attorney and judge who is a longtime friend of the Trump family. Pirro has long been a go-to interviewer for the president and his allies when they need a sympathetic cable news host who will enthusiastically agree with them and not ask any difficult questions. (That same day, Pirro attended a baby shower in New York for Lara Trump, who is married to Eric Trump.) After the interview aired late Saturday night, Pirro tweeted: “Such a great interview!” Trump agreed and tweeted: “Good times. Thanks Judge.”

Talk about media in the tank for the White House, huh.  The Trump kids aren't nearly as smart as they think they are, but look who they learned from.

Hours after Donald Trump Jr unloaded on James Comey in a Fox News interview on Saturday, President Trump sent a Sunday morning Twitter attack in Comey's direction. 
Trump's tweet: "I believe the James Comey leaks will be far more prevalent than anyone ever thought possible. Totally illegal? Very 'cowardly!'"

Team Trump unleashed their media hitman, Corey Lewandowski, this weekend openly calling for Comey to be prosecuted and jailed, because that's what dictators do to dissidents.

“Look, what he admitted yesterday, George, is this guy’s the leaker. He is the deep state in Washington that is everything is wrong. He admitted under oath that he gave his contemporaneous notes to a law professor,” Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski told anchor George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “And if that’s what he has done, he continues to do this, if this is his pattern, as the FBI director he absolutely should have been fired, and if he is the chronic leaker he should be potentially prosecuted for leaking information.”

Again, the toughest job in America right now is being Trump's lawyer screaming internally every time he tweets or his staff pulls nonsense calling for a gross abuse of power.  That's because Robert Mueller continues to expand the Trump/Russia investigation with top personnel, as Paul Rosenzweig at Lawfare notes:

What's the worst thing that happened to Donald Trump this week? It was NOT Director Comey's testimony. Rather, it must be the late Friday news that Robert Mueller has hired Michael Dreeben, on a part-time basis, to help with his investigation. Dreeben, a deputy in the Office of the Solicitor General, has argued more than 100 cases before the Supreme Court. His specialty has, for the last 20 years, been criminal matters and he has an encyclopedic knowledge of criminal law. I once saw him argue a Supreme Court matter without a single note. In short, he is quite possibly the best criminal appellate lawyer in America (at least on the government's side). That Mueller has sought his assistance attests both to the seriousness of his effort and the depth of the intellectual bench he is building.

Trump's incompetent toadies versus the best the government has to offer?  It won't even be a contest.  Having already hired the DoJ's top fraud division lawyer in Andrew Weissmann earlier this month, Mueller is putting together the team necessary to sink Trump.

The question down the road is when Mueller comes back with his tale of money laundering and criminal activity, will Trump simply pardon everyone and Republicans move on as I expect?  It may fall to NY state AG Eric Schniederman to land the real blows as Trump can't pardon state crimes.

But in the end as I've said, only the House GOP can impeach Trump, and even then there will never be 67 Senate votes to remove him, and even should I be wrong on that, who would enforce that when Trump has control of the US military?

This is a marathon, folks, not a sprint.

Sunday Long Read: The Death You Cannot See

Having come of age in the early 90's, the specter of HIV and AIDS was more or less beaten into my generation, that sex was basically going to kill you if you had it.  Having protected sex was still seen as something potentially lethal and terrifying, and largely responsible for the awful abstinence movement that followed in schools 20 years later.

But HIV has always been far worse for the black community, and for the LGBT community, and for black gay and bisexual men in 2017, the rate of HIV infection now surpasses the national rate for any country on Earth.

Early on a balmy morning last October, Cedric Sturdevant began his rounds along the bumpy streets and back roads of Jackson, Miss. Sturdevant, 52, has racked up nearly 300,000 miles driving in loops and widening circles around Jackson in his improvised role of visiting nurse, motivational coach and father figure to a growing number of young gay men and transgender women suffering from H.I.V. and AIDS. Sturdevant is a project coordinator at My Brother’s Keeper, a local social-services nonprofit. If he doesn’t make these rounds, he has learned, many of these patients will not get to the doctor’s appointments, pharmacies, food banks and counseling sessions that can make the difference between life and death.

Negotiating a maze of unpaved roads in Jackson in the company car, a 13-year-old Ford Expedition with cracked seats and chipped paint, he stopped to drop off H.I.V. medication at a couple’s home. One of the men was H.I.V.-positive, the other negative; they lived in the neighborhood locals call the Bottom, where every fifth or sixth home is abandoned, with broken windows, doors hanging off hinges, downed limbs and dry leaves blanketing front yards. Sturdevant banged on the door of a small house, its yard overgrown with weeds; he knew not to leave the package on the doorstep, where it could be stolen. After a while a young man emerged, shirtless, shrugging off sleep. He had just gotten out of jail. Sturdevant handed him the package, shook his hand and told him to “stay out of trouble.”

Sturdevant drove on another 15 minutes to pick up Marq (a shortened version of his name to protect his privacy), a teenager who was still reeling from the H.I.V. diagnosis he received the previous spring. As they headed to and from a doctor’s appointment and a meeting with a counselor, Sturdevant, slow-talking and patient, with eyes that disappear into his cheekbones when he smiles and a snowy beard, gently grilled him, reminding him to stay on his meds. The teenager slumped in the back seat, half listening, half checking his texts. He looked up briefly when Sturdevant told him, “You’ve come a long way. I’m proud of you.” But Marq barely said goodbye as he jumped out of the car in front of a convenience store on an avenue scattered with a pawnshop, a liquor store and several Baptist churches, and he all but admitted he was planning to spend the afternoon smoking weed and looking at Instagram. “Knucklehead,” Sturdevant whispered, as the teenager slammed the door. Pulling off his favorite Dallas Cowboys baseball cap and running a hand over his bald head, Sturdevant added softly, “Breaks my heart.”

These patients of Sturdevant’s are the faces of one of America’s most troubling public-health crises. Thanks to the success of lifesaving antiretroviral medication pioneered 20 years ago and years of research and education, most H.I.V.-positive people today can lead long, healthy lives. In cities like New York and San Francisco, once ground zero for the AIDS epidemic, the virus is no longer a death sentence, and rates of infection have plummeted. In fact, over the past several years, public-health officials have championed the idea that an AIDS-free generation could be within reach — even without a vaccine. But in certain pockets of the country, unknown to most Americans, H.I.V. is still ravaging communities at staggering rates.

Last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, using the first comprehensive national estimates of lifetime risk of H.I.V. for several key populations, predicted that if current rates continue, one in two African-American gay and bisexual men will be infected with the virus. That compares with a lifetime risk of one in 99 for all Americans and one in 11 for white gay and bisexual men. To offer more perspective: Swaziland, a tiny African nation, has the world’s highest rate of H.I.V., at 28.8 percent of the population. If gay and bisexual African-American men made up a country, its rate would surpass that of this impoverished African nation — and all other nations.

The crisis is most acute in Southern states, which hold 37 percent of the country’s population and as of 2014 accounted for 54 percent of all new H.I.V. diagnoses. The South is also home to 21 of the 25 metropolitan areas with the highest H.I.V. prevalence among gay and bisexual men. Jackson, the capital of Mississippi, the country’s poorest state, is best known for blues, barbecue and “The Help.” It also has the nation’s highest rate — 40 percent — of gay and bisexual men living with H.I.V., followed by Columbia, S.C.; El Paso; Augusta, Ga.; and Baton Rouge, La. In Jackson, a small city of just over 170,000, half a dozen black gay or bisexual men receive the shock of a diagnosis every month, and more than 3,600 people, the majority of them black men, live with the virus.

The South also has the highest numbers of people living with H.I.V. who don’t know they have been infected, which means they are not engaged in lifesaving treatment and care — and are at risk of infecting others. An unconscionable number of them are dying: In 2014, according to a new analysis from Duke University, 2,952 people in the Deep South (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas) died with H.I.V. as an underlying cause, with the highest death rates in Mississippi and Louisiana. Among black men in this region, the H.I.V.-related death rate was seven times as high as that of the United States population at large.

We talk about living in a world now where HIV can be treated, but there's still plenty of people who don't get tested and can't afford treatment even if they are aware they have the virus.  Especially for younger black folk, HIV is not something they worry about, or get tested for, like those my age.  That wasn't drilled into them, they took it for granted.

But here it is, destroying the black community, and awareness is just not something that happens anymore.  Maybe this article will help.

Goodbye, Batman

Legendary Adam West, TV's original Batman, has died at the age of 88.

Adam West, the gray-stockinged star of the 1960s Batman TV show, has died at the age of 88.

“Our dad always saw himself as The Bright Knight and aspired to make a positive impact on his fans’ lives. He was and always will be our hero,” his family said in a statement. West died peacefully in his home Friday night after a battle with leukemia, and is survived by his wife Marcelle, six children, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

West first caught the eye of the Batman show’s producer after he appeared as a different kind of caped crusader in a series of commercials for Nestle’s Quik.

“You can’t play Batman in a serious, square-jawed, straight-ahead way without giving the audience the sense that there’s something behind that mask waiting to get out, that he’s a little crazed, he’s strange,” West later told the Archive of American Television. He and his co-star Burt Ward added a manic, hilarious energy to the Batman and Robin characters on Batman, which ran for three seasons from 1966 to 1968. The show championed such noble causes as drinking milk, eating your vegetables, and always wearing a seatbelt.

After Batman was cancelled, West struggled to find more onscreen work, making several guest appearances on television but never finding another role as high-profile as the one that had made him famous. Reportedly, he was disappointed when Tim Burton did not tap him to reprise the character in 1989’s Batman. He eventually settled comfortably into a second career as a voice actor after accepting a job to voice the mayer of Quahog on Family Guy—a character also named Adam West.

“The only thing I thought is that it would be the end of me, and it was for a bit,” he said during an appearance at Comic-Con in 2014, where he discussed the end of Batman. “But then I realized that what we created in the show. . . we created this zany, lovable world.

“I look around and I see the adults—I see you grew up with me, and you believe in the adventure. I never believed this would happen, that I would be up here with illustrious people like yourselves. I’m so grateful! I’m the luckiest actor in the world, folks, to have you still hanging around.”

Say what you will about Batman over the years, we all knew him first as played by West, something that still stands 50 years later today.  West, Burt Ward, and Catwoman, Julie Newmar, got together last year to voice an animated movie for the 50th anniversary of the classic 1966 series, and it's actually pretty good.  I'm glad West got to make the film.

Here's to you, Caped Crusader.

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