All nuclear power plants are inherently unsafe – aging, poorly maintained ones most of all.
Entergy Corporation’s Indian Point nuclear plant is located 38 miles north of New York City. It was commissioned in 1974. It experienced numerous incidents warranting concern – the latest on May 9.
A transformer exploded. Fire and black smoke were visible. The plant’s Unit 3 was shut down after the incident. Officials claimed no threat to public safety.
Whether true or not, who knows. When incidents like this happen, the public is systematically lied to.
Nuclear experts cite Indian Point’s notorious history of unaddressed health hazards, safety violations, numerous accidents and pollution – issues persisting throughout its operating life.
Waste water emitted from its facilities killed millions of Hudson River fish and other aquatic life forms.
High levels of cancer occur in communities close to all nuclear power plants – notably in the case of Indian Point.
Documented evidence shows infant mortality rates drop significantly in communities near shuttered nuclear plants.
Indian Point is located on or near three earthquake faults. Officially, the facility is built to withstand a 6.1 magnitude event.
Seismologists predict an eventual major earthquake far more powerful than Indian Point can tolerate.
Experts want the facility closed. It’s outlived its useful period of serviceability, they say.
It needs to be shuttered to avoid a potentially catastrophic incident. Millions of New York City and state residents are at risk.
Imagine the possibility of turning the entire area into an uninhabitable dead zone – like around Chernobyl and Fukushima.
Investigations conducted by the New York Daily News and others show Indian Point’s fire detection and suppression systems to be woefully inadequate.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman called the facility’s failure to comply with federal fire regulations “reckless and unacceptable.”
US nuclear facility operators notoriously ignore vital safety regulations. People living in the vicinity of these plants face potentially major hazards. Information about them is suppressed.
Nuclear expert Harvey Wasserman says “US reactors are riddled at thousands of key junctures with (so-called) ‘fire protection’ materials that burn while leaving a dangerous char that hampers fire fighters.”
“America’s toothless regulators have given reactor owners no reason to shore up their (woefully inadequate) fire protection.”
The facility isn’t needed to supply New York with energy. A risk analysis assessment “compare(d) the human and financial costs of the Fukushima disaster to the potential risks of a nuclear crisis at Indian Point…”
It showed the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) “underestimates the danger posed to Indian Point from seismic activity.”
“An accident at one of (its) reactors on the scale of the recent catastrophe in Japan could send a fallout plume south to the New York City metropolitan area, requiring the sheltering or evacuation of millions of people, and cost ten to 100 times more than Fukushima’s disaster.”
Wind, solar and other renewable energy options would make New York much safer. They could be in use within 10 years or sooner, the report said.
New York has a surplus of electricity generating capacity. It permits plenty of time to phase in safe, reliable options.
Indian Point’s license comes up for renewal this year for an additional 20 years. It’s currently running under a “period of extended operation” while relicensing proceedings continue.
They’re not expected to be completed before at least 2018 or later. Meanwhile, operations aren’t affected.
Hazards remain. Critics want Indian Point decommissioned before a potentially catastrophic one occurs.
Obama to name Marine general to become top U.S. military officer | 04 May 2015 | President Barack Obama on Tuesday will nominate Marine General Joseph Dunford as the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, U.S. officials said on Monday, in a widely expected pick likely to win swift Senate confirmation. Dunford, commandant of the Marine Corps, would replace Army General Martin Dempsey, who is expected to step down in September as the top military officer after a tumultuous four-year period that saw most U.S. forces withdraw from Afghanistan but thousands return to Iraq. In addition, Obama will nominate Air Force General Paul Selva, currently the commander of the U.S. Transportation Command, as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs.
Dunford also said U.S. military forces will be needed in Afghanistan after 2014. He specifically included fighter jets and attack helicopters, intelligence drones and special forces counterterrorism squads as well as advisers and trainers. But he did not name a specific number of troops he believes would be required.
Classified briefings and bill-readings in basement rooms are making members queasy.
If you want to hear the details of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal the Obama administration is hoping to pass, you’ve got to be a member of Congress, and you’ve got to go to classified briefings and leave your staff and cellphone at the door.
If you’re a member who wants to read the text, you’ve got to go to a room in the basement of the Capitol Visitor Center and be handed it one section at a time, watched over as you read, and forced to hand over any notes you make before leaving.
And no matter what, you can’t discuss the details of what you’ve read.
“It’s like being in kindergarten,” said Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), who’s become the leader of the opposition to President Barack Obama’s trade agenda. “You give back the toys at the end.”
For those out to sink Obama’s free trade push, highlighting the lack of public information is becoming central to their opposition strategy: The White House isn’t even telling Congress what it’s asking for, they say, or what it’s already promised foreign governments.
The White House has been coordinating an administration-wide lobbying effort that’s included phone calls and briefings from Secretary of State John Kerry, Labor Secretary Tom Perez, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and others. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz has been working members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro has been talking to members of his home state Texas delegation.
Officials from the White House and the United States trade representative’s office say they’ve gone farther than ever before to provide Congress the information it needs and that the transparency complaints are just the latest excuse for people who were never going to vote for a new trade deal anyway.
“We’ve worked closely with congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle to balance unprecedented access to classified documents with the appropriate level of discretion that’s needed to ensure Americans get the best deal possible in an ongoing, high-stakes international negotiation,” said USTR spokesman Matt McAlvanah.
Obama’s seeking a renewal of fast-track authority, which would empower him to negotiate trade deals that then go to Congress for up-or-down votes but not amendments. He says he needs that authority to complete the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-country free trade agreement that he calls essential to stopping China from setting trade, labor and environmental standards in the Asia-Pacific region.
Administration aides say they can’t make the details public because the negotiations are still going on with multiple countries at once; if for example, Vietnam knew what the American bottom line was with Japan, that might drive them to change their own terms. Trade might not seem like a national security issue, they say, but it is (and foreign governments regularly try to hack their way in to American trade deliberations).
Moreover, many of the leaders of the opposition, administration aides argue, are people who aren’t used to dealing with classified information and don’t realize how standard this secrecy is. And by the way, they note, neither congressional conference committees nor labor contract talks allow even this level of access to negotiations while in process.
But those arguments aren’t making much headway among trade skeptics, who feel they are being treated with disrespect and condescension. And they increasingly are pinning the blame directly on United States Trade Representative Mike Froman, who’s been headlining the classified briefings, in addition to smaller meetings with members.
“The access to information is totally at the whim of Ambassador Froman,” said Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), who’s a hard no on fast track but says he’d like to see other ways of promoting international trade. “He likes to make available information that he thinks helps his case, and if it conflicts, then he doesn’t make the information available,” Doggett said.
Doggett, like other critics, pointed out that the cover sheets of the trade documents in that basement room are marked only “confidential document” and note they’re able to be transmitted over unsecured email and fax — but for some reason are still restricted to members of Congress.
“My chief of staff who has a top secret security clearance can learn more about ISIS or Yemen than about this trade agreement,” Doggett said.
“He’s incredibly condescending. It’s like, ‘You’d be all for this if only you hadn’t gotten an F in economics,’” said Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), who said he’s opposed to what he’s seen because it lacks labor standards and measures to address currency manipulation.
“We know when we’re being suckered,” said Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.), who said he believes that the USTR quotes percentages instead of absolute values on trade statistics that give an overly positive impression. “It’s not only condescending, it’s misleading.”
Asked about those criticisms, Froman responded by praising his adversaries.
“I have great respect for the critics, many of whom have shown great leadership on progressive causes, and I look forward to a continued dialogue with members of Congress based on facts and substance,” Froman told POLITICO.
Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.), who supports giving Obama fast-track authority, says the division among Democrats is between members who are looking for a reason to say no and those that are actually trying to work on the deal.
“They’ve been very engaging with Congress and to members who want to be in the room and engaging them on the text … so we can ask questions but, more importantly, so we can provide input,” Kind said.
As for Froman, Kind said, “he’s very cordial, he’s very respectful and listening to other people’s opinion. … I don’t get a sense of condescension and arrogance.”
Kind says he expects several more Democrats to announce their support for the president’s efforts in the coming days, some of them because of what they’ve heard from Froman.
Doggett insisted that the outreach is costing the White House support.
“The more people hear Ambassador Froman but feel they get less than candid and accurate answers, I think it loses votes for them,” Doggett said.
“They’re going to have 60 days before I even sign it to look at the text, and then a number of months after that before they have to take a final vote,” Obama said forcefully.
“He’s indignant when we say it’s secret,” said Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.). “Maybe there’s some definition of secrecy he knows that I don’t know.”
Bastrop County in Texas recalled the U.S. Army to Bastrop to answer questions regarding the upcoming exercise Jade Helm 15. The court room was overflowing into other areas of the building as citizens turned out in mass to grill a Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) representing the U.S. Army Special Operations Command. A civilian contractor was present who represented the training exercise earlier in the year to Bastrop County Commissioners but he fielded no direct questions.
o Exercise is DOD and Department of State operation – not affiliated with DHS nor FEMA
o Exercise is not Martial Law training
o Exercise locations were chosen to offer unfamiliar terrain to the students
o Walmart closings are not part of exercise
o No training will occur outside of private property other than transportation of personnel to other private property locations.
o No road blocks or stopping of citizens requesting ID
o No intelligence gathering of locals and no direct law enforcement training
o Drones will be used
o Texas was supposedly not listed as hostile due to DHS labeling most Texans as “Domestic Terrorists”
o LTC said this is strictly a training exercise regardless of the current political and economic climates
Several veterans were outspoken when they were chosen to ask questions. One former Texas Spec Ops stood up and asked the LTC from Bragg ‘why they are not in DC running real ops?”. Another, a former Texas Green Beret stood up and turned slighty to the crowd and said “to not trust what they are saying because he served under the current command”. This Green Beret referenced an unspecified OP for his distrust.
They switched committee members before the vote! One did vote no, however.
The two senators who voted against the bill — Sen. Connie Leyva, D-Chino (San Bernardino County) and Sen. Sharon Runner, R-Lancaster (Los Angeles County) — said the amendments were a step in the right direction, but didn’t go far enough to address their concerns.
“I firmly believe in vaccines,” Leyva said. “I still have a concern that this will not go far enough to help a two income family who cannot homeschool their child or a single working parent.” – SF Gate
After California’s vaccine mandate bill SB277 was halted last week with an outcry of public outrage against it, the pro-vaccine mafia machine went to work. Democratic Sens. Ben Allen of Santa Monica and Richard Pan of Sacramento helped pursue a vote rigging agenda to replace seats on the committee with pro-vaccine industry sellouts. A new democrat, Sen. Bill Monning, was chosen to fill a vacant seat, and with his vote in favor of stripping Californians of vaccine exemption rights, SB277 was approved today.
The California Coalition for Health Choice branded the action as, “a rare act of outright rigging the results…” CCHC’s press release also explains, “Adding one vote in favor of the bill wasn’t enough. He also removed the Vice Chair of the committee, Senator Huff, an ardent opponent of the bill, and replaced him with Senator Runner.”
From the press release:
That bill should have died in committee last Wednesday. Instead of taking a vote and letting it die, the bill gets postponed for a week so the author can work on amendments. It’s currently scheduled as a “vote only item” Wednesday. That means no one in opposition will get to testify on whatever amendments the author proposes. How is that good government,” asked Sylvia Pimentel, State Director of the Canary Party, and member of the California Coalition for Health Choice (CCHC).
Arrogant California Senate silences the public, then forces toxic vaccines on them
“This time no public testimony was allowed,” reports the Sacramento Bee, confirming that the California Senate conspired to not just rig the vote, but also silence the public outrage so that Senate “representatives” didn’t have to hear their constituents’ testimony.
How’s that for transparency in California government? When the outcry of the public becomes too much to bear, just silence the public and vote against them!
As soon as this bill gets signed into law by Gov. Brown, it will deny public education to all children who are not vaccinated.
Capitol lobbyists, staff jump security line during California vaccine debate | 22 April 2015 | The controversy surrounding California’s mandatory vaccine bill has brought the Capitol long lines, crowded hallways and signs asking visitors to use the stairs as anti-vaccine advocates fill committee hearings to demand the state keep its personal belief exemption in place. Now you can add a special entrance for staff and lobbyists to the list. With Senate Bill 277 facing a crucial vote on Wednesday, the Joint Rules Committee sprung into action to keep disruptions to a minimum for those who work in the building the pharma-terrorists and their henchmen.
Baker College instructor told students to threaten patients into vaccinations, lawsuit claims | 10 April 2015 | A Shiawassee County woman is suing Baker College after she claims she was kicked out of the school’s nursing program because she questioned lessons she claims encouraged students to lie to patients in order to get them vaccinated. Nichole Rolfe filed the lawsuit Monday, April 6, in Genesee Circuit Court on claims an instructor at the private school’s Owosso campus told students to threaten and panic patients into immunizations. Rolfe’s October 2013 dismissal from the program came 20 weeks before she was set to graduate. [This pharma-fascism needs to *stop.*]
FLINT, MI — A Shiawassee County woman is suing Baker College after she claims she was kicked out of the school’s nursing program because she questioned lessons she claims encouraged students to lie to patients in order to get them vaccinated.
Nichole Rolfe filed the lawsuit Monday, April 6, in Genesee Circuit Court on claims an instructor at the private school’s Owosso campus told students to threaten and panic patients into immunizations. Rolfe’s October 2013 dismissal from the program came 20 weeks before she was set to graduate.
“She stated that we would go in there if they declined and then we would use threats to coerce them,” Rolfe said of the instructor’s lesson. The threats could include, “You’re going to lose your Medicaid and if you lose your Medicaid because you refuse the vaccine you will have to pay for your entire hospital stay,” she claims.
The lesson, Rolfe claimed, came two days after another instructor told her that she had to tell potential new fathers that they were to be vaccinated against a number of diseases, including whooping cough, immediately before they could be allowed on the hospital floor with newborn babies.
The vaccinations would do little to protect the newborns because they would not have taken effect by the time the fathers interacted with the babies, Rolfe claimed.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone who comes in contact with newborns, including parents, be up-to-date on their vaccinations at least two weeks before coming in close contact with the infant.
Rolfe said she questioned both instructors, trying to understand the rationale behind the two lessons that she believed went against how they were previously taught to inform patients.
“I was asking questions that a nursing student should ask,” Rolfe said.
But the school claimed that Rolfe was overly aggressive and disruptive and it was for that reason she was removed from the program.
A dismissal contract the school drafted, which was filed with the lawsuit as evidence, claimed that Rolfe continuously argued with the instructor about a personal belief regarding immunizations and that several attempts were made to move forward with training but Rolfe kept bringing up the same argument.
The contract also cited “persistent, aggressive, oppositional behavior” by Rolfe as a reason for dismissal.
Baker has not yet been served with the lawsuit and school officials declined to comment on any possible pending litigation.
Rolfe denied acting out while questioning the instructors, saying that her questions sought clarification and were typical for a nursing class. She also denied that she was against vaccinations or that she didn’t want people inoculated.
“This goes against the patient’s right to informed consent,” Rolfe said. “Our job is to build trust with the family and patient. We are to educate this patient.”
Rolfe’s attorney, Hemlock-based Philip L. Ellison, said the alleged lessons from the instructors could have put his client in trouble with the law. Ellison explained that using fake or threatening information to force someone into receiving a medical treatment, such as an inoculation, would likely constitute an assault and battery.
Her dismissal as a student came after Rolfe was placed on a June 10, 2013, behavior contract with the school due to an interaction with another student regarding a conversation about homosexuality.
Rolfe claimed that she told the student that it wasn’t the place of potential nurses to judge others and that she disagreed with the other student’s view that homosexuality is a learned behavior.
The student complained to the nursing program’s directors, claiming that she felt harassed by Rolfe for her stance on homosexuality, according to the lawsuit.
The behavior contract, which is also included in the lawsuit as evidence, claims that Rolfe continued to make inappropriate, harassing comments toward another student.
Rolfe denied harassing the student.
The lawsuit is seeking more than $25,000 in damages and is asking the school to remove the dismissal from Rolfe’s school record. Rolfe said she is unable to enroll at any other nursing schools due to the black mark on her Baker transcript.
U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom says 28-year-old Alexander E. Blair is charged with one count of failing to report a felony. A criminal complaint filed Friday alleges Blair knew of a plot by John T. Booker.
The complaint alleges that in March 2014, the FBI began an investigation into Booker, who also called himself Mohammed Abdullah Hassan, concerning statements he made online indicating he wanted to wage jihad and to die in the process. Booker was arrested April 10, 2015, and charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and two other counts.
During the investigation of Booker, law enforcement officers learned that Blair shared some of Booker’s extremist views and loaned Booker money for the purpose of renting a storage unit that Booker used to store components for a bomb. The complaint alleges Blair knew of Booker’s intent to detonate a bomb at Fort Riley and to “kill as many soldiers as possible.” Despite being convinced that Booker was serious about carrying out the plot, the complaint alleges, Blair chose not to report what he knew to the authorities.
If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of three years in federal prison.
A 20-year-old Kansan man allegedly joined the U.S. Army last year so he could launch an “ISIS-inspired attack” on American soldiers like the deadly strike on Ft. Hood, Tex., in 2009, federal authorities announced today.
John T. Booker of Topeka was arrested after a lengthy FBI investigation. He was set to report for basic training on Tuesday.
He’s the latest alleged ISIS sympathizer nabbed by the FBI following a string of arrests involving Americans allegedly plotting to join ISIS overseas or launch attacks on their behalf here in the U.S.
Sources said Booker may be suffering from mental health issues.
Booker came to the FBI’s attention after an unidentified citizen complained to federal authorities about messages he had posted on his Facebook page.
“Getting ready to be killed in jihad is a HUGE adrenaline rush!!” he allegedly posted on March 19, 2014. “I am so nervous. NOT because I’m scared to die but I am eager to meet my lord.”
The next day, FBI agents approached Booker and interviewed him, according to court documents. In that interview, he admitted he enlisted in the U.S. Army months earlier with the intent to commit an insider attack on American forces like the Ft. Hood in 2009, when Maj. Nidal Hassan (allegedly) killed 13 and injured dozens more, court documents show.
Seven month later, an FBI informant began engaging with Booker, and during those conversations Booker “repeatedly expressed his desire to engage in violent jihad on behalf of [ISIS],” the FBI alleges in court documents.
Specifically, on Oct. 10, 2014, Booker told the FBI informant he “joined the United States Army” and “was going to go in there and kill the American soldier,” the court documents say.
“Booker stated that he formulated several plans for committing jihad once enlisted, including firing at other soldiers while at basic training at the firing range or while at his pre-deployment military base after completing his initial military training,” according to the court documents. “Booker clarified that he did not intend to kill ‘privates,’ but that he instead wanted to target someone with power.”
In addition, Booker said he planned to use a small gun or sword for his attack, court documents say.
BE VERY AFRAID! EXPAND THE POWER AND BUDGET OF THE DHS et al………..
Exactly a week ago, FBI agents arrested a Philadelphia woman for allegedly conspiring to provide material support to the group now so infamous for its brutal propaganda videos and the havoc it’s wreaking in war-torn Syria and Iraq. The day before, the FBI field office in New York announced it has arrested two ISIS-inspired women for plotting to detonate a bomb inside the United States. (similar propaganda)
The week before, two cousins — one of them a current member of the Illinois National Guard — were arrested in Chicago for allegedly trying to launch ISIS-inspired attacks in the U.S. and overseas.
A week earlier, a U.S. Air Force veteran, 28-year-old Tairod Pugh of New Jersey, was indicted for his own ISIS-inspired plans. On his laptop, FBI agents allegedly discovered more than 180 jihadist propaganda videos.
In February, three New York City men were arrested on charges they allegedly conspired to join ISIS but also expressed willingness to carry out attacks on the terror group’s behalf in the U.S.
Over the past two years, nearly 50 Americans have been charged with trying to join ISIS or are suspected of taking action inspired by the group.
See the full complaint attached to this story.
FBI Charges Kansas Man Tried to Bomb U.S. Military Base | 10 April 2015 | A 20-year-old Topeka man has been arrested by federal agents for allegedly plotting to detonate a bomb at Fort Riley military base in Kansas, officials said Friday. John T. Booker, Jr., allegedly sought to attack the U.S. Army base on behalf of Islamic State militant group, according to a three-count criminal complaint filed in federal court in Kansas. Authorities say he was arrested Friday morning outside the base as made the final connections to arm what he believed was a powerful vehicle-delivered bomb.
FBI accused of whitewashing Saudi Arabian involvement in 9/11 after quashing report about Florida family who mysteriously fled US two weeks before attack –Al-Hijji family left cars and food behind when they fled in August 2001 –FBI agent’s report said family of Saudi advisor had ‘many connections’ to hijackers, some of whom were said to have visited the house | 12 April 2015 | The Federal Bureau of Investigation is facing accusations that it is ‘whitewashing’ possible Saudi Arabian involvement in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Relatives of homeowner Esam Ghazzawi lived in the plush Sarasota dwelling until they fled and left cars, furniture and food in their refrigerator behind right before the 9/11, prompting some to say they knew about the attacks. The daughter and son-in-law of Ghazzawi, who worked as an adviser to a member of the Saudi royal family, had stayed at the 3,300 square foot house for six years but left in late August 2001, not even leaving a forwarding address. At least one ‘family member’ had attended the same Venice, Florida, flight school as some of the hijackers, according to a piece in the New York Post. Mohamed Atta, the leader of the hijackers, and two other terrorists on the flights, Marwan Al-Shehhi and Ziad Jarrah, were also reported to have visited the Sarasota house, according to Florida Bulldog.
How the FBI is whitewashing the Saudi connection to 9/11 | 12 April 2015 | Just 15 days before the 9/11 attacks, a well-connected Saudi family suddenly abandoned their luxury home in Sarasota, Fla., leaving behind jewelry, clothes, opulent furniture, a driveway full of cars — including a brand new Chrysler PT Cruiser — and even a refrigerator full of food. About the only thing not left behind was a forwarding address…Former Democratic Sen. Bob Graham, who in 2002 chaired the congressional Joint Inquiry into 9/11, maintains the FBI is covering up a Saudi support cell in Sarasota for the hijackers. He says the al-Hijjis “urgent” pre-9/11 exit suggests “someone may have tipped them off” about the coming attacks. Graham has been working with a 14-member group in Congress to urge President Obama to declassify 28 pages of the final report of his inquiry which were originally redacted, wholesale, by President [sic] George W. Bush.
Once again (repeat of the Boston Bombing trial) Suspect doesn’t defend self, no actual evidence presented, no confronting of the glaring facts…. just throw yourself on the mercy of the court (and the media) while under the influence of mass drugging!)
James Holmes’ family says he’s mentally ill and doesn’t deserve death, but victims’ families aren’t convinced
There is no question that the acts James Eagan Holmes is accused of committing were monstrous. But do they make him a monster? Do they mean he deserves to die? Those answers will soon be in the hands of a jury. But in the meantime, his mother is speaking out — and with a plea for compassion.
Holmes is currently is prison, awaiting opening statements in a trial that is set to begin on April 27. He faces the death penalty for the July 20, 2012 mass shooting in an Aurora, Colorado movie theater that left twelve people dead and seventy injured. His defense has entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. Last December, his parents expressed the hope for a speedy trial and a guilty plea in exchange for life in prison. “If that happened, our son would be in prison the rest of his life,” they said in a joint statement at the time, “but no one would have to relive those horrible events at a trial the media has permission to televise.” Now, however, as the court date approaches, his mother is revisiting those “horrible events,” via a new self-published book entitled “When the Focus Shifts: The Prayer Book of Arlene Holmes 2013-2014.” The Hollywood Reporter reveals that “Much of the book is taken from her handwritten daily prayer journals she began writing in January 2013.”
In it, she writes, “People think he is a monster, but he has a disease that changed his brain.” She prays for her son’s prosecutors, saying, “I don’t know why you want to pursue the death penalty for a mentally ill young man.” And she claims that “This book is being published to raise awareness of the immorality of the death penalty. Severely mentally ill people need treatment, not execution.” Mrs. Holmes has vowed to donate the proceeds from the book to “medical and mental health services.”
James Holmes’ mental history is murky, though it seems he underwent some abrupt personality changes prior to the Aurora shooting. He dropped out of his neuroscience PhD program just a month before the shooting. His defense has claimed that he had been recently under psychiatric care. In early July of 2012, he sent a text to a fellow student asking if she had ever heard of dysphoric mania – a severe form of bipolar disorder that can lead to paranoia and violence. And he told her she should stay away from him, “Because I am bad news.” After his arrest, he was placed on suicide watch after what law enforcement described as a series of “half-hearted” attempts on his own life.
Accounts of Holmes’ behavior, prior to and following the Aurora massacre, paint a disturbing picture of a man veering out of control. In December, his parents issued a public statement in which they said, “He is a human being gripped by a severe mental illness. We have always loved him, and we do not want him to be executed.” But others, including some directly impacted by the events of that July day, have been vocal in their dissent. Marcus Weaver, who was shot in the arm and whose friend died in the attack, has expressed skepticism of any attempts at “sympathy for a man who has done a horrific thing” and says, “To give a person who committed such a calculated, horrific crime a life sentence, to me that’s like giving him a slap on the wrist.” Caren Teves, whose son Alex was killed, told Yahoo News last week that the new book is “an insult to our son’s memory and to our family,” saying, “I struggle to understand how this individual could possibly pray for, by name, the thousands upon thousands of innocent people who continue to be directly impacted by her son’s evil, premeditated acts. The release of this book is nothing more than a calculated attempt to influence members of the jury. Almost three years after Alex was executed in that theater, she has never even extended the decent act of a simple apology.” And Melisa Cowden, whose ex-husband Gordon Cowden was also killed, says simply, “He’s not mentally ill.”
Yet as a 2014 report by the Guardian reveals, the US does have an extensive track record of severe punishment for the mentally ill. In 2005, Andre Thomas was given the death penalty in Texas after killing his wife, his son, and stepdaughter. Thomas, a paranoid schizophrenic, later pulled out an eye and ate claiming he had to in order to keep the government from reading his thoughts. He is still on death row. And in 2013, Florida executed John Ferguson, a schizophrenic who was involved in the deaths of at least eight people. His final words were “I am the Prince of God and I will rise again.”
Whether Holmes is a cold-blooded murderer or a severely mentally ill young man is still a matter for the justice system to work out — and to then determine what do about. And I cannot for the life of me imagine who – aside from the morbidly curious — would buy a prayer book written by a killer’s mother. But I do believe that Arlene Holmes’ pain is real and profound. I believe that living with the knowledge that your child has done unfathomably horrible things must be unbearable. I also believe that the challenge – not just for the people will ultimately decide Holmes’ fate but for all of us when we look at acts of such extreme violence – is to find the human being within his most inhumane deeds. Not to excuse him, but to understand him. Otherwise, how else can we judge him? And how else can we hope to intervene in time for some other young man when he warns someone else to stay away, and that he’s bad news?
Jack is interviewing Mark Baird (Featured in this video below) on THE POWER HOUR – April 9th 2015.
Activists in Northern California, near the border with Oregon, are pushing to secede from the Golden State. They say they’re fed up with taxes, regulation, and lack of representation. If they get their way, the country’s 51st entrant would be called the State of Jefferson.
“The three major urban areas dictate politics for the entire state,” says Mark Baird of the Jefferson Declaration Committee. “Our children are leaving, our economy is crashing, we are taxed, every breath we take is regulated, and we feel that a free state will cure that.”
To date, five county governments have signed on the plan and more may be joining up.
“We can’t afford to run a California style bureaucracy, that is true,” says Baird. “But as a small rural state, we don’t want to. ”
The idea of secession in California isn’t new. During the Great Depression, folks started pushing a similar plan in the same part of the state but threw in the towel after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941.
Both California’s state legislature and the U.S. Congress would have to approve the plan to make Jefferson more than a pipe dream. That’s not going to happen any time soon, but Northern California’s separatist movement is worth exploring as a way of pushing back against a distant and unresponsive government.