Offered today as a brief respite, of sorts, from the all-too-real events of the last several days...
I had great fun as a panelist, once again, on The Young Turks' show, The Point early last week. My fellow panelists included the hilarious and whip-smart comedian Lee Camp, broadcaster Mark Thompson, and TYT co-host Ana Kasparian, with an assist from video contributors Thom Hartmann and Naomi Klein.
We taped the discussion on 12/12/12, prior to the horrific events in Newtown, CT. Obviously, the topics we covered weren't nearly as serious (unless you consider the coming apocalypse to be serious). We discuss the Mayan Apocalypse Myth, over-population, 'disaster progressivism', and the myriad ways the world could end, both real and imagined ... and of course, the famous Doomsday Preppers of history. From Lee's 'obesity exchange program' to 'redneck paradise', we also dissect whether it's "politicizing tragedy" or "learning from experience" by responding, politically, to tragic events like Hurricane Sandy and the Aurora movie theater shooting (about :30 mins in).
Please 'like' it and share it among your peeps and tweeps! And please feel free to share your thoughts and how you'll be celebrating 'Apocalypse Day' on Dec. 21st in comments below...
The statement notes the group will hold a news conference this Friday, December 21 --- the Friday before Christmas --- which Washington Post's Greg Sargent aptly describes as "the ultimate Friday news dump."
Here's their complete statement today...
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UPDATE 12/21/12: The NRA held it's "major news conference" today, announcing their "major contributions". It didn't go well...
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IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Water Wars: Midwest drought threatens Mississippi & Colorado Rivers, winter wheat crop; Fracking industry goes after Matt Damon; Climate change denial industry steps on cartoon rake [clonk!] again!; PLUS: Some good news for a change --- a new light powered by gravity ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): EPA tightens soot rules by 20%; Japan: nuclear operator TEPCO admits 'collusion' with regulators; Chevron to pay $1.8m in UT settlement; Study links pesticides to long-term brain damage; Sharp lessons from Deepwater Horizon report; Florida's rivers 'sicker' than ever; Mercury in seafood: Where does it come from? ... PLUS: VIDEO: A city-sized iceberg breaking off from a glacier will blow your mind ... and much, MUCH more! ...
"If we're going to get past this almost hysterical fear of trying to do anything at all on gun rights," MSNBC's Rachel Maddow asked on Friday during her breaking coverage of the mass shootings at the Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, CT, "if we're going to try to puncture the myth that anything to reform or rationalize gun laws is absolutely, politically impossible as a categorical thing, what would happen if we just started at the edges?"
"What would happen if we just started with what even members of the NRA say they want from national gun laws? Because they want a hell of a lot more than we've got right now," she correctly noted. "The organization that they're a member of may not admit that, but when you poll their members, even they want improvements."
She is absolutely right. And so is the rank and file membership of the National Rifle Association when it comes to many of the most pressing gun safety issues. The numbers (read on) are unequivocal. They want what their leadership does not, and by huge margins. The con-men and scam-artists who run the terrorist-enabling NRA racket, on the other hand, as usual, are absolutely bloody wrong.
If we could reform gun safety laws just enough in this country to meet the wishes of the vast majority of the NRA membership, we would be leaps and bounds beyond the deadly political quagmire we have been languishing in as a nation --- thanks to the insidious liars and profiteers of the NRA leadership and the cowardly politicians afraid to take them on --- for at least a decade in this country.
The NRA's loudest and most dishonest voice is its Executive VP and chief political strategist Wayne LaPierre. He is opposed to any and all legislation that might stand a chance of making Americans safer, claiming a twisted and tortured view of the Bill of Right's 2nd Amendment as a prohibition against any and all such legislation...
The conservative Republican and former U.S. Congressman from Florida turned MSNBC morning show anchor Joe Scarborough offered a powerful response this morning to the tragic mass shooting which killed 20 children and 7 adults in Newtown, CT last Friday.
The often glib Scarborough who says he "received the NRA's highest ratings over four terms in Congress," took a very serious and non-ideological turn at the top of today's Morning Joe program on MSNBC. During his prepared remarks he cited the mass shooting at the Sandy Hook elementary school as a "true landmark" which, he said, forced him to spend "the past few days grasping for solutions and struggling for answers, while daring to question my long held beliefs on these subjects."
"Every American must know," he said, "from this day forward, that nothing can ever be the same again."
With an eye towards what he described as "entrenched special interests [who] will try to muddy the issues," he implored that "Politicians can no longer be allowed to defend the status quo. They must instead be forced to protect our children."
"The violence we see spreading from shopping malls in Oregon, to movie theaters in Colorado, to college campuses in Virginia, to elementary schools in Connecticut, is being spawned by the toxic brew of a violent pop culture, a growing mental health crisis and the proliferation of combat-styled guns."
"The cause of these sickening mass shootings," he explained, "is no longer a mystery to common-sense Americans."
Speaking from his former perspective as a powerful Washington D.C. insider during his days in the U.S. House, Scarborough went on to say: "I am a conservative Republican who received the NRA's highest ratings over 4 terms in Congress. I saw the debate over guns as a powerful, symbolic struggle between individual rights and government control. In the years after Waco and Ruby Ridge, the symbolism of that debate seemed even more powerful to my colleagues and me."
"But the symbols of that ideological struggle have since been shattered by the harvest sown from violent, mind-numbing video games and gruesome Hollywood movies that dangerously desensitizes those who struggle with mental health challenges. Add military-styled weapons and high capacity magazines to that equation and tragedy can never be too far behind."
"Friday changed everything," he continued. "It must change everything. We all must begin anew and demand that Washington's old way of doing business is no longer acceptable. ... Our Bill of Rights does not guarantee gun manufacturers the absolute right to sell military-styled high-caliber semi-automatic combat assault rifles with high capacity magazines to whoever the hell they want."
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The complete video of Scarborough's 12/17/2012 remarks on MSNBC's Morning Joe is at the top of this article, the full text transcript follows below...
"Imagine if somebody suggested we shouldn't discuss terrorism after 9/11 or fire safety after Triangle Shirtwaist or lifeboats after Titanic," George W. Bush's not-insane former speechwriter, David Frum tweeted on Saturday, before adding satirically: "1502 people have DROWNED! This is no time to insult their memory by asking why there weren't enough lifeboats to save them."
Not to pile on... but it's time to pile on. In just one recent 24-hour period in America:
And that's just a few of them. Moreover, as Brad Friedman highlighted in memoriam, from Eric Boehlert's tweet Sunday morning: "And yes, in the 48 hrs since the Newtown shooting, more than 160 Americans have died from gun fire; 300+ have been injured."
Those same apologists tell us that any discussion of policy changes that might prevent innocent children and unarmed civilians from being slaughtered must be postponed to some later date that never actually arrives.
Other wealthy nations have developed different gun policies that have drastically reduced gun violence in their countries while still allowing law-abiding private citizens to own firearms. For example, Australia passed strict gun control and access laws in 1996, after 13 mass shootings in 18 years. How many mass shootings have there been in Australia since the new laws passed? Zero. Could we gain insight from gun policies instituted by other governments? Perhaps --- but here in America, land of free speech and home of the brave, we are told we can't discuss it now...
"Yes, how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer my friend is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind."
- Bob Dylan, Blowin' in the Wind
In "High Cost of Willfully Misinterpreting the 2nd Amendment" we touched upon the price the American people have paid in lives, injuries and grief, as measured against the extraordinary profits of U.S. small arms manufacturers whose domestic sales of increasingly sophisticated weapons, including the AR-15 and AK-47 styled assault rifles, similar to the one used in the mass shooting in Newton, CT last Friday, climbed to 14 million guns in 2009 alone --- greater than the total number possessed by 21 of the world's standing armies combined.
As the nation reels in the wake of the latest horror at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, it seems a worthwhile task to take a quick look at a partial history of mass shooting events in the U.S., starting with the 1966 University of Texas massacre so that we can take stock of what our nation's strange fascination with guns and ammo has truly wrought --- with increasing frequency since the Federal Assault Weapons Ban expired in 2004...
Merry Christmas from the White House and the NRA...
UPDATES: Bushmaster semi-automatic assault rifle and others weapons used in mass murder legally purchased and registered; Newtown, CT elementary school shooting 2nd deadliest in U.S. history, most came since NRA helped loosen laws; Tearful President speaks in Brady Press Room, calls for 'meaningful action regardless of politics', fails to offer specifics...
UPDATE 12:14pm PT: According to AP, at this hour, there are 27 dead at the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, including 18 children, most of them kindergarteners, making this the second deadliest shooting in U.S. history. Which means, according to BuzzFeed's Andrew Kaczynski, that "of the 12 deadliest shooting attacks in US history, six have occurred since 2007."
In other words, the six of the most deadly shootings in our history all happened in the years since the NRA was so successful in assuring the Reagan-era assault-weapons ban was ended and other gun laws were loosened and struck down entirely across the country.
As of this week, all 50 states now allow concealed guns to be carried. But, according to the terrorist-enabling NRA and its cowardly supporters, the solution is for still more people to carry guns (the Republican MI legislature approved a new law allowing guns in schools just last night) so we all keep getting safer and safer. Right?
The NRA plan to make America safer: Everyone get a gun. Wait for someone in bullet-proof armor to use a semi-automatic assualt rifle to shoot 60 people in a crowd in 90 seconds or so. Someone try to shoot them. That plan is perfect! No downsides at all.
UPDATE 12:21pm PT: President Obama just spoke in the Brady Press Room, named for Ronald Reagan's Press Secretary James Brady, who was shot in the head during the assassination attempt on Reagan, and the man for whom the now expired assault weapons ban, supported by Reagan and signed by George H.W. Bush, was named.
In terse remarks, while fighting back tears, the President said: "We've endured too many of these tragedies these past few years...We are going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent tragedies like this, regardless of the politics."
He offered no suggestions, at this time, for that "meaningful action".
UPDATE 1:20pm PT: Number of children said killed, among the 27 shot by suspect, increased to 20.
Also, Democratic strategist Julian Epstein on MSNBC says 30 people are killed by guns every day in the U.S. 11,000 per year. "The equivalent of a jumbo jet going down every week in this country."
UPDATE 3:27pm PT:According to NBC News: "Weapons used in shooting were legally purchased and registered to gunman's mother, law enforcement officials tell NBC News ". Thanks for the great work, NRA con-men!
UPDATE 3:40pm PT: Fox "News" confirms weapons used were legally purchased and registered by shooter's mother (who was also killed). They (and CNN) report one weapon was a .223 caliber semi-automatic rifle made by Bushmaster. Here's the Bushmaster 2012 catalog. Note the bottom of their website includes two different links to the NRA.
Here's a video of a .223 Bushmaster AR-15, similar to the one reportedly used in the killing of 27 in CT today, firing at 100 yards...
UPDATE 9:51pm PT: There seems to be quiet a bit of confusion, and conflicting information, about the type of weapons used in the mass shooting today. So let's try to clear that up a bit, with what we're able to learn at this hour...
• Whodathunkit? But questions arise about the legitimacy of the claims made by Fox' latest wannabe James O'Keefe, about that video purporting to show an "unprovoked attack" by "union thugs" outside the capital building in Lansing, MI this week. The most amazing part? Someone at The New York Times --- yes, thatNew York Times --- is one of those actually noticing the big honkin' edit in the middle of the video, rather than just reporting it all as unquestioned fact.
• Eric Holder spoke about the need to protect voting rights at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library. We have more than a few bones to pick about it, but we'll just point you to the actual speech for the moment.
• Finally, for now, the critically acclaimed Zero Dark Thirty, the new theatrical film about the manhunt for Osama Bin Laden, reportedly glorifies the torture that led to his capture and killing, even though no torture whatsoever actually led to his capture and killing.
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Massive pipeline explosion melts WV highway; More bad news for wolves, this time courtesy of MI Republicans; Judge lifts Keystone XL pipeline restraining order; PLUS: There they go again: House GOP threatens to hold Hurricane Sandy recovery funds hostage ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): No 'Get-Out-of-Jail-Free' Card on Sea Level; Colorado River water supply to fall short of demand: study; Hundreds rally against PacNW coal trains; Interior Dept. delays fracking rules; UK lifts ban on fracking; Feds open CA lands to fracking development; Is A123 battery sale to China a threat to US security? PLUS: Question posed at AGU: “Is Earth F**ked?”... and much, MUCH more! ...
Republican campaign consultant Scott Tranter appeared on a panel Monday hosted by the Pew Center on the States to discuss the long lines and voter ID controversies that plagued the 2012 election. In his comments, Tranter seemed to imply that he believed these issues were helpful to Republicans and should be pursued for that reason.
"A lot of us are campaign officials --- or campaign professionals --- and we want to do everything we can to help our side. Sometimes we think that's voter ID, sometimes we think that's longer lines --- whatever it may be," Tranter said with a laugh.
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: UN climate talks in Doha, Qatar end with a whimper; Midwest weather whiplash; Enjoy snow skiing while you still can; PLUS: Sad news for the most famous wolf in Yellowstone National Park ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Salt Lake Trib: 'A Killing Climate'; Japanese nuclear plant sitting on active fault line; NOAA sees sea level rise of up to 6.6 feet by 2100; Wheat prices rise on global drought; SPUG's 1912 campaign against 'useless gifts'; NYC reconstruction will plan for climate change; CA to easily meet state renewable energy goals; NASA: Wildfires to increase in US; BP emails reveal underreporting of oil spill disaster ... PLUS: How Corruption Is Strangling U.S. Innovation ... and much, MUCH more! ...
Now Jon Stewart and The Daily Show have something to say about it all, whether Fox "News" likes it or not. (Note: The video is broken into two parts for some reason, so be sure to watch through to Part 2!)