Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Question Is Not Whether Darren Wilson Behaved Legally. He Did. The Question...

Protests spread coast to coast

  • Raul Reyes: Grand jury decided not to indict Officer Darren Wilson; prosecutor key in this
  • He says Robert McCulloch compromised grand jury from start, should have recused himself
  • His giving grand jury voluminous evidence made it seem he was acting to protect Wilson
  • Reyes: Decision an affront to the fundamental American value we are all are equal under law


Alan: The Question is not whether Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson behaved legally. The Question is whether The Law is wrong. 

"Bad Black People." Why Bill O'Reilly Is Wrong Even When He's Right

Ferguson Message: Justice System Unfair To Minorities

By Raul A. Reyes
November 27, 2014
Editor's note: Raul A. Reyes is an attorney and member of the USA Today Board of Contributors. Follow him on Twitter @RaulAReyes
(CNN) -- A little over two days. That's how long the grand jury deliberated before deciding not to bring an indictment against Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri on August 9. St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch announced the grand jury had heard more than 70 hours of testimony from 60 witnesses before reaching its decision, which he said was supported by physical evidence.
Sadly, the grand jury's failure to return an indictment of Wilson was not surprising. But don't blame the grand jury; blame McCulloch. He oversaw the proceedings and bears responsibility for their outcome.
Raul A. Reyes
Raul A. Reyes
McCulloch compromised the Ferguson grand jury proceedings from the start. He resisted calls to recuse himself, saying, "I have absolutely no intention of walking away from duties and the responsibilities entrusted in me by the people of this community." However, the community would have been better served if he had stepped aside.
Photos: Unrest in FergusonPhotos: Unrest in Ferguson
McCulloch's father was a police officer killed in a shootoutwith an African-American suspect. His brother, uncle and cousin served with the St. Louis Police Department, and his mother worked there for 20 years as a clerk.Newsweek noted McCulloch's "long history of siding with the police." For the sake of impartiality, McCulloch should have let a special prosecutor take over the case.
The grand jury only needed to find "probable cause" to charge Wilson. That's one of the lowest legal standards in our justice system, below "beyond a reasonable doubt" (required for a criminal conviction) and "preponderance of the evidence" (the standard in a civil trial). The fact that McCulloch did not get an indictment for a killing that shocked the nation raises questions about whether he really wanted an indictment.
"We will be presenting absolutely everything to this grand jury," McCulloch said in August. Yet in grand jury proceedings, the prosecutor typically shows the minimal amount of evidence necessary to establish that a trial is merited. By dumping so much evidence on the grand jury, McCulloch may have overwhelmed them and led them to the wrong conclusion. In the process, he's opened himself to charges that he was acting to protect Wilson.
Consider McCulloch's time frame for the grand jury, which The New York Times described as "prolonged and exhaustive." Grand juries routinely return criminal indictments in a matter of days. But the Ferguson proceedings dragged on for months, putting a burden on the jurors to recall everything and then decide wisely. Another red flag was that this lengthy process was riddled with leaks, all of which supported Wilson's account of the events.
Worse, McCulloch declined to recommend charges to the grand jury. Prosecutors normally walk a jury through the charges they are seeking, breaking them down and explaining why they are deserved. McCulloch instead left the Ferguson grand jury to sort through terms such as "voluntary manslaughter" and "involuntary manslaughter in the second degree" on their own -- making it more likely that they would not seek an indictment.
Jackson: Civil rights have been violated
Breaking down the Ferguson decision
Smoke bombs fired on Ferguson crowds
In fact, McCulloch could have brought charges directly against Wilson, circumventing the grand jury. He chose not to do so, which is a troubling indicator of his interest in aggressively prosecuting this case.
Sure, there are conflicting accounts of what transpired between Wilson and Michael Brown. Was Wilson in fear for his life, as he told investigators, when he and Brown struggled for his gun? Did Brown have his hands up when he was fatally shot? We will never know, because there will be no trial. That's a tragedy for the Brown family and an affront to the fundamental American value that we all are equal under the law.
The grand jury's decision has implications far beyond Ferguson. Gallup polling has found that African-Americans have less confidence in the criminal justice system than white Americans, while a W.W. Kellogg Foundation report found that 68% of Latinos report being worried about police brutality. Wilson walking free will likely reinforce the views among communities of color that our justice system is unfair. And when significant segments of our population lose faith in our justice system, our democracy is weakened.

The Ferguson decision reflects poorly on prosecutor McCulloch. His flawed grand jury proceedings ensured that justice was not served for Michael Brown.

The Founding Fathers Would Have Hated The Tea Party

As offspring of The Enlightenment - and Deist in their religious orientation - The Founding Fathers studied science, read the Greek philosophers (and as many other great thinkers as they could get their hands on) and considered Paris the epicenter of Western civilization.

"Deism And Founding Fathers Links"

Since miracles did not accord with science, Jefferson - a hero to small-government, self-reliant, individualist conservatives - published a version of the New Testament which excised every miraculous occurrence.

"The Founding Of America: Christianity As The Message, Not The Medium"

"The Tea Party Is The American Taliban"


Alan: Not only would The Founding Fathers have hated The Tea Party, the Republican Old Guard will soon hate The Tea Party as the GOP's worsening civil war becomes existentially non-viable.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Herman Melville: "I Am Tormented With An Everlasting Itch"

"Wanderers: Short Video of Our Future in Space," Slate Magazine

Sunset on Mars
Sunset on Mars, based on images taken by the Spirit rover..


Seriously, stop whatever you’re doing and WATCH THIS VIDEO. And yes, you very much want to make it full screen:
Holy. WOW.
This is one of the most wondrous and moving paeans to space exploration I have ever seen. The words of Sagan are magnificent, of course. And the effects arestunning, photo-realistic and very compelling.
But take a moment and let this sink in: Nearly every location depicted in this video is real. These aren’t just fanciful places made up in the head of a special effect artist; those are worlds in our solar system that actually exist. And many were based on images taken through telescopes, or probes that have physically visited these distant locales.
Sunset on Mars. The weird ridge wrapped around Saturn’s moon Iapetus. The ice fields of Jupiter’s moon Europa. Even those cliff divers? Yup: that’s Uranus’s moon Miranda, with the highest cliffs known in the solar system.
Every time the scene changed in the video, my jaw dropped a little further and my brain soared to a new height. Nothing in there is impossible; no faster than light travel, no wormholes. Even the space elevator shown towering over Mars and the huge cylindrical rotating colony in space (did you notice the Red Sea in it?) are problems in engineering, not physics. We can build them.
And each is a dream of mine, a thing I see when I close my eyes. Cruising throughthe geysers of Enceladus, skimming over Jupiter’s clouds, floating in Saturn’s rings (and note the scale of the rings in the video; the chunks of ice and the height of the rings are correct).
Right now, we can only see these adventures, these possible futures, when we dream. I choked up several times watching the video, seeing these visions laid out.
But it was that last shot, the close-up of the woman watching the airship exploring the clouds over Saturn; that was what pierced home.
For now, we send our robots, our machines into space. We learn a lot that way, and there is no end to what we can discover. But this is a human endeavor, a human adventure, and there will come a time when the views of those worlds you see in this video will no longer be science fiction.
To some of us, someday, those worlds will be home. 

Photo by Erik Wernquist, from the video.
Update (Nov. 30, 2014 at 00:20 UTC): Erik Wernquist has more information about the film on his website, and a gallery of stills as well. My friend Mika McKinnon has an excellent writeup of the film over at io9; go read it as well.
Tip of the spacesuit visor to Alex Parker.
Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

Bill Cosby Happily Married 51 Years To Wife Camille: Update And Summary

Happily married: Cosby has been with his wife Camille for the last 51 years
Happily married: Cosby has been with his wife Camille for the last 51 years

Bill Cosby: Hero To White Supremacists

Bill Cosby offers to reimburse tickets for his New York stand up show after University of Massachusetts, Netflix and NBC all cut ties with 77-year-old comedian

  • Bill Cosby is scheduled to perform twice on Dec 6 in Tarrytown, NY
  • His team will refund tickets ranging in price from $49 to $125

  • Comes after 17 women accused 77-year-old of raping and drugging them

  • Other theaters, NBC, Netflix and UMass have cut ties with Cosby

Bill Cosby's management has offered refunds for tickets to his New York show next week.

It comes in the wake of allegations that the revered comedian has drugged and sexually abused at least 16 women.
The 77-year-old still plans to perform his two scheduled shows at the Tarrytown Music Hall in Tarrytown, upstate New York.

But despite initially claiming the venue could not afford to refund tickets, a spokesman for Cosby has now revealed reimbursements will be possible.

Scroll down for video 
Refunds available: Bill Cosby's team has confirmed they will refund tickets to his New York show next week
Refunds available: Bill Cosby's team has confirmed they will refund tickets to his New York show next week

'Mr. Cosby's management is now allowing for refunds for any patron's (sic) that do not wish to attend the show. Please let me know if I may cancel and refund your order,' the Music Hall box office told ticket holders in an email on Friday, according to Gothamist.

A number of other theaters have cancelled Cosby's listing, leaving him with 30 shows until spring 2015.

Netflix and NBC have pulled the entertainer's projects, and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst has cut ties with their star alumnus by asking him to step down as an honorary co-chairman of their $300 million fundraising campaign.

Cosby received a master's degree and a doctorate in education from the university. 

He and his wife donated several hundred thousand dollars to the university, with reports suggesting the figure to be about $500,000.

Dropped: The University of Massachusetts Amherst has confirmed it cut ties with 1976 graduate Bill Cosby in the wake of his ever-growing sex scandal
Dropped: The University of Massachusetts Amherst has confirmed it cut ties with 1976 graduate Bill Cosby in the wake of his ever-growing sex scandal
Flashback: Cosby shakes hands with University of Massachusetts Chancellor Randolph W. Bromery (left) after receiving his Doctor of Education degree in 1977
Flashback: Cosby shakes hands with University of Massachusetts Chancellor Randolph W. Bromery (left) after receiving his Doctor of Education degree in 1977

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley sent a letter to the university urging it to cut ties with Cosby.
Coakley says while Cosby hadn't been criminally charged his association sends the wrong message when the state is focused on the prevention of campus sexual assault.

'Although Mr. Cosby has not been criminally charged nor convicted for these actions ... I believe the volume and disturbing nature of these allegations has reached a point where Mr Cosby should no longer have a formal role at UMass, nor be involved in its fundraising efforts, unless or until Mr Cosby is able to satisfactorily respond to these allegations,' Coakley wrote. 

Cosby's lawyer has called the allegations 'unsubstantiated' and 'discredited'.

On Wednesday it was revealed that Cosby  testified under oath in 2005 that he gave the National Enquirer an exclusive interview about looming sexual-assault accusations by a Canadian woman against him in exchange for the tabloid spiking a second accuser's story.

Excerpts of Cosby's deposition from a civil lawsuit filed by Andrea Constand quote Cosby as saying he feared the public would believe her sexual-assault accusations if the Enquirer published similar claims by Beth Ferrier. 

Both women accused Cosby of drugging and molesting them.

'Did you ever think that if Beth Ferrier's story was printed in the National Enquirer, that that would make the public believe that maybe Andrea was also telling the truth?' Cosby was asked. 

'Exactly,' Cosby replied, according to court motions initially filed under seal and made available from archived federal court records.

Cosby, in the deposition, said he had a contract with the Enquirer.

'I would give them an exclusive story, my words,' Cosby said in the Sept. 29, 2005, deposition. In return, 'they would not print the story of — print Beth's story.'

Role model no more: Flanked by Boston College President Reverend J. Donald Monan (right) and UMass President William M. Bulger, actor Bill Cosby reacts to the graduates at Boston College commencement exercises in 2011. UMass cut all ties with Cosby this week
Role model no more: Flanked by Boston College President Reverend J. Donald Monan (right) and UMass President William M. Bulger, actor Bill Cosby reacts to the graduates at Boston College commencement exercises in 2011. UMass cut all ties with Cosby this week

The release of the documents comes after Cosby this month was shown on an Associated Press video trying to persuade the news cooperative not to use his response when asked this month about sexual-abuse allegations.
'I would appreciate if it was scuttled,' Cosby said in a videotaped exchange with the AP on Nov. 6.

Cosby said in 2005 he had been given a draft of Ferrier's interview with the Enquirer and was told she had passed its lie-detector test. He said he also was given an advance look at his exclusive, titled 'My Story,' which warned that he would defend against anyone trying to 'exploit' him.

Constand later sued Cosby and the Enquirer, alleging defamation. The claims were consolidated with her sexual-assault lawsuit against Cosby and were settled.

A representative for American Media, Inc., which owns the National Enquirer, said in an emailed statement Wednesday that the Enquirer was 'unflinching' in its coverage of the allegations against Cosby.

'We continue to remain aggressive in our reporting today and stand by the integrity of our coverage of this story which we have taken the lead on for more than a decade,' the representative said.

Cosby had said at his deposition that Constand and her mother asked only for an apology in early phone calls about the issue in January 2005, and he said they received one.

'Andrea's mother said, 'That's all I wanted, Bill,'' Cosby testified.

Constand's lawyers argued in their defamation suit: 'Requesting only an apology is not the action of an extortionist or someone who wants to 'exploit' a celebrity.'

They said that Cosby later called back and offered to pay for Constand's 'education.'

Constand had met Cosby through her job with the women's basketball team at Temple University in Philadelphia, and she said he sexually assaulted her at his nearby home in 2004. 

She quit the job and moved home that year, and she first filed a report with Ontario police on Jan. 13, 2005, and filed a federal civil suit that March. 

After prosecutors near Philadelphia decided not to file criminal charges, several other women came forward to support Constand's claims, including Ferrier.

Ferrier has gone public about what she called her brief affair with Cosby when she was a model in 1984. 

She said that he once drugged her coffee during an encounter in Denver and that she woke up hours later in the backseat of her car with her clothes disheveled. 

The Enquirer in 2005 withheld her story and instead published Cosby's account, in which he said, 'Sometimes you try to help people and it backfires on you and then they try to take advantage of you.'

In the legal deposition, taken at a Philadelphia hotel, Constand's lawyer asked Cosby if he tried in the Enquirer article 'to make the public believe that Andrea was not telling the truth?'

'Yes,' Cosby replied.

Constand's civil lawsuit grew to include nine women willing to testify about allegations of sexual assaults involving Cosby. Some came forward after a suburban Philadelphia prosecutor declined to file criminal charges over Constand's police complaint.

A comedian this year referenced the accusations anew in a performance, prompting some of the suit's Jane Doe witnesses to reveal their names and other women to raise new accusations.

Cosby has refused to discuss allegations raised in recent weeks by numerous women. 


Andrea Constand - A Temple University employee, she claimed in 2006 that Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her in his Philadelphia-area mansion two years earlier. Cosby eventually settled this suit out of court as the prosecution said they had 13 Jane Does who would testify Cosby did the same to them in the past.

Barbara Bowman - Bowman told MailOnline that Cosby raped and drugged her back in 1985 when she was a 17-year-old aspiring actress. Bowman was one of the 13 Jane Does in the 2006 trial against Cosby.

Joan Tarshis - Tarshis claimed that she was just 19-years-old when Cosby drugged and raped her twice in Hollywood back in 1969 while she was working as a writer for him.

Janice Dickinson - The supermodel  (pictured right) said in an interview that Cosby asked her to come to Lake Tahoe and talk about a television role in 1982, but ended up drugging and raping her.

Tamara Green - Green, who first came forward in 2005 told MailOnline that she was an aspiring actress in the 1970s when Cosby gave her pills and pretended to care for her while she had the flu, but instead sexually assaulted her.

Therese Serignese - Also one of the 13 Jane Does, she says she was 19 when Cosby drugged and raped her in Las Vegas after one of his shows.

Louisa Moritz - She accused Cosby of sexual assault, saying he once forced her into oral sex, backstage at The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson in 1971, and implied he would further her career if she went through with it.

Linda Joy Traitz - She said earlier this week that she was just 19 when Cosby drove her out to a beach and tried to get her to take pills to relax, before becoming 'sexually aggressive'. Traitz, of Hallandale Beach, Florida, has been charged in the past with trafficking pills. Cosby's attorney, Marty Singer, is trying to use Traitz's past to discredit her claims against his client.

Beth Ferrier - Beth Ferrier claims she had relationship with Cosby in the mid-1980s. She claims that she awoke in her car with her clothes in disarray and not remembering what had happened. Ferrier has claimed that he drugged her coffee.

Carla Ferrigno - The wife of Incredible Hulk star Lou Ferrigno, claims Cosby tried to sexually assault her during a gathering at his house in 1967. What's more, Cosby allegedly tried to use a friend to help court Ferrigno, and allegedly made his move on the former Playboy Bunny just moments after his own wife, Camille, left the room.

Angela Leslie - The former model-actress claims that Cosby forced her to masturbate him in his Vegas hotel suite after giving her a strong drink in 1992.

Renita Chainey Hill - The 47-year-old mother-of-three who met Cosby when she was offered a role on Picture Pages in Pittsburgh claimed he would fly her to different cities around the United States and drug her during a four-year relationship.

Kristina Ruehli - A New Hampshire grandmother-of-eight, now 71, claims Cosby invited her back to his house for 'party'. She arrived and no one was there. Ruehli alleges that he drugged two bourbons he poured her and she came to when he was on top of her, shirtless. 

Victoria Valentino - The former Playboy playmate claims Cosby drugged her and a friend, tried to rape her friend then violated her instead in a Hollywood apartment after dinner.

Jewel Allison - The former model accused Cosby of drugging her wine and making her feel his genitals before kissing her during a dinner at his home in the late Eighties.

Michelle Hurd: The 47-year-old actress, best known for her roles on Law & Order: SVU and Gossip Girl, revealed she was a stand-in on the set of The Cosby Show when Cosby started acting inappropriately around her. In a Facebook post this weekend, she described being touched in ways she did not like and being asked to eat lunch with him in his dressing room. Then, things became too much for Hurd. 'I dodged the ultimate bullet with him when he asked me to come to his house, take a shower so we could blow dry my hair and see what it looked like straightened,' she says. 'At that point my own red flags went off and I told him, "No, I’ll just come to work tomorrow with my hair straightened'''.

Joyce Emmons: The former comedy club manager claims she woke up naked next to a friend of Bill Cosby after the comedian gave her a sedative when she complained of a migraine. Joyce Emmons told TMZ that the comedian slipped her Quaalude when she was in his Las Vegas hotel suite in the 1970s. She claims Cosby drugged her but has not accused him of sexual assault.

Lachele Covington: The 20-year-old actress, who’d been an extra on the TV show Cosby, filed a police report in March 2000 against the star, accusing him of making an unwelcome sexual advance. According to The New York Post, after dinner and drinks at his home, he massaged her then 'guided her hand towards his sweatpants'. Cosby denied the claim and no charges were filed. 

Pope Francis Prays At Istanbul's Blue Mosque. Conservative Xtians Reveal True Colors

Alan: No matter how conservative Catholics (and Christian fundamentalists) construe their "mission," "at ground zero" their views become a septic field of hatred, arrogance and condemnation, a toxic stew that cannot be squared with the teachings of Yeshua.

The "born again" belief in Certain Salvation -- and the correlative way that Catholic Traditionalists "play church" as if it were a "board game" requiring favorable alignment of "pieces" if one hopes to "win" -- devolve into psychological mechanisms that exempt pro forma practitioners from any obligation that they behave in accordance with Jesus' teaching. 

In the end, walking The Way is trumped by a kind of nouveau antinomianism.

"Love Your Enemies. Do Good To Those Who Hate You," Luke 6: 27-42

"Do You Know What You're Doing To Me?"
Jesus of Nazareth

Yeshua Excoriates Fellow Pharisees: "The Woe Passages"

"Any Religion That Needs Fear To Thrive Is Bad Religion"

"Bad Religion: A Compendium"

I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump off. So I ran over and said "Stop! Don't do it!" "Why shouldn't I?" he said. "Well, there's so much to live for!" "Like what?" "Well... are you religious?" He said yes. I said, "Me too! Are you Christian or Buddhist?" "Christian." "Me too! Are you Catholic or Protestant ? "Protestant." "Me too! Are you Episcopalian or Baptist?" "Baptist" "Wow! Me too! Are you Baptist Church of God or Baptist Church of the Lord?" "Baptist Church of God!" "Me too! Are you original Baptist Church of God, or are you reformed Baptist Church of God?" "Reformed Baptist Church of God!" "Me too! Are you Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1879, or Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915?" He said, "Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915!" I said, "Die, heretic scum", and pushed him off.  
Emo Philips

"The Essence Of Religious Fanaticism: Christian And Islamic"

Pope Francis prays at the Blue Mosque in Istanbul

Published on Nov 29, 2014


Alan: Don't miss the YouTube "viewer comments" posted below.