After 9-year-old fatally shoots instructor with an Uzi, gun range raises age minimum to 12

28 Aug

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First, the bad news. 

  • A nine-year-old girl was learning how to use an Uzi sub-machine gun, when she lost control of it and wound up fatally shooting her instructor in the head at the Last Stop shooting range in White Hills, Arizona.
  • Her parents filmed it on their cell phone.
  • Charles Vaca, 39, is dead.
  • A nine-year-old girl will be psychologically scarred for life because she witnessed the death of a man she killed accidentally.
  • Parents will be psychologically scarred for life because they witnessed their nine-year-old daughter kill a man, accidentally, because they thought this was an age-appropriate activity.
  • People think that kids should learn how to use Uzis.
  • The shooting took place at a combined fast good restaurant and firing range.
  • A combined fast food restaurant and firing range exists
  • The tour company that brings people to the range is called Bullets and Burgers.

The Good News: Tragedies can serve as teachable moments. And that’s exactly what we see here. You see, before this death, the age minimum at the Last Stop shooting range was 8. I think we can all agree that that’s ridiculous. Especially when operating an Uzi. But now, a change has come. The age minimum is now twelve years old. And, as if that’s not already radical enough. the minimum height is five feet. Seems a little sizest and ageist to me, but safety first, I guess.

 

I know I feel a lot better. And I can’t help but think of this song.

Originally published on RawStory

Meet Zephyr Teachout, the only feminist running for governor in New York

28 Aug
photo by Katie Halper

photo by Katie Halper

There’s only one New York gubernatorial candidate who is progressive and a feminist. And that’s Zephyr Teachout. The National Organization for Women’s New York chapter has the common sense and the spine to actually back her, while other organizations sell out and make deals behind closed doors with current governor Andrew Cuomo

Yesterday, on Women’s Equality Day, Zenaida Mendez, the president of the New York State Chapter of NOW (National Organization for Women) stood in front of a statue of Eleanor Roosevelt and endorsed Zephyr Teachout. Mendez said,

Today, I am proud to be standing next to a dynamic woman with an inspiring, compelling vision, who promised to shake up Albany by including diverse voices, by including all those New Yorkers, who deserve better–a better economic life, a better system, a better paying job, affordable child care, affordable housing, affordable health care for all–a woman who has a holistic view of our state and how we should govern. The National Organization of Women is proud to be part of this historic effort to elect the first woman governor of this state.

Teachout responded by saying, “I’m so proud to stand here today with NOW and President Mendez of the New York State chapter. I’m a life-long feminist.” And Teachout does, indeed support ”sick days and paid family leave insurance, so that no parent has to choose between paying the bills and nursing a sick child.” Continue Reading about Teachout

“Daily Caller” celebrates Women’s Equality Day with a sexy slideshow that is broken

26 Aug

Screen Shot 2014-08-26 at 12.19.02 PM

Sigh. If only the left were as irreverent, creative and  funny as the people over at the Daily Caller. I mean, we already know that the site is cool, since anything run by Tucker Carlson is at least as hip as his bow ties and inverted mushroom coif.

But now they’ve really outdone themselves, with a “Celebrate Women’s Equality Day With These Ten Beauties [SLIDESHOW].”

The Daily Caller’s Entertainment Reporter writes,

August 26 was deemed “Women’s Equality Day” a mere 41 years ago for a reason, and The Daily Caller will pay homage to it the proper way. These ten beautiful women truly have no equals, so we applaud them and their figures.

OK. So, it’s not surprising that this was stupid and not funny. But what was genuinely surprising was that I wasn’t able to navigate through the slide show very well. Like, get it together, Tucker. Can’t you guys pay a good coder? And I wasn’t the only one.

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Also, do they know that Olivia Wilde, whom they include in the slideshow, is an ACLU-supporting feminist? Or maybe they do… and her punishment is being included on this list?

Originally posted on RawStory

Happy(ish) Women’s Equality Day!

26 Aug

 

Image via The Atlantic

Image via The Atlantic

Happy Women’s Equality Day! And happy 94th birthday to the 19th Amendment! 

August 26th commemorates the 1920 passage of the 19th amendment, giving white women the right to vote. The day was designated in 1971 thanks to the tireless work of the inimitable feminist and congresswoman Bella Abzug (D-NY), picture above.

We’ve come a long way, but as anyone reading this blog knows, there is more work to be done. 

This infographic sums it up pretty well. (Click for larger version.)

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Originally posted on Feministing

Why do Holocaust survivors have more empathy for Palestinians than Seth Rogen?

25 Aug

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Happy 50th Day anniversary of Israel’s assault on Gaza!

Guys, I’m really torn. This weekend, two open letters were published which address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. One condemns, “the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza.” The other one argues that, “Hamas cannot be allowed to rain rockets on Israeli cities.”

I’m trying to figure out which of the two letters is more relevant and helpful. Bear with me, won’t you, as I look at the context and the content of these two letters before coming to an informed decision.

The Authors

The letter Condemning Israel:  40 Jewish survivors of the Nazi Holocaust and 287 children and grandchildren of Jewish Holocaust survivors.

The founding of Israel, as well as its policies, are based on the notion of self-defense and “never again.” The Holocaust almost wiped out the Jews. And it could happen again. That’s why Israel does what it does. If there’s one group of people who you would think this idea would work on it would be the very people who were almost wiped out during the actual Holocaust. And yet, the people who signed they letter realize that their trauma doesn’t justify the policies of Israel. So, that is pretty significant.

The Letter Condemning Hamas: 190 actors, directors, producers and at least one “mogul” in Hollywood.

None of the signatories survived the Holocaust, spent time in Concentration Camps or witnessed the Holocaust. But some of them are important Jewish voices. Seth Rogen, for example, boldly took on the theme of the overbearing Jewish mother in film Guilt Trip. Bill Maher helps bridge the dangerously widening gap between misogynist domestic abusers and islamophobes. Among the non-Jews, Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger are known for their commitment to peace over violence on and off the screen, Tom Arnold is really smart, and Kelsey Grammer endorsed Michele Bachmann, whose commitment to Zionism is unwavering (since Jews need to go back to Israel in order for The Rapture to happen after which all the Jews who don’t accept Jesus will burn in eternal damnation.

The Message

The letter Condemning IsraelIsrael’s actions are inexcusable, and so is the United States support for Israel:

As Jewish survivors and descendants of survivors and victims of the Nazi genocide we unequivocally condemn the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza and the ongoing occupation and colonization of historic Palestine. We further condemn the United States for providing Israel with the funding to carry out the attack, and Western states more generally for using their diplomatic muscle to protect Israel from condemnation. Genocide begins with the silence of the world.

We are alarmed by the extreme, racist dehumanization of Palestinians in Israeli society, which has reached a fever-pitch. In Israel, politicians and pundits in The Times of Israel and The Jerusalem Post have called openly for genocide of Palestinians….

….. Nothing can justify bombing UN shelters, homes, hospitals and universities. Nothing can justify depriving people of electricity and water.

The Letter Condemning Hamas: Hamas’s actions are inexcusable, and children are the future.

While we stand firm in our commitment to peace and justice, we must also stand firm against ideologies of hatred and genocide which are reflected in Hamas’ charter, Article 7 of which reads, “There is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him!” The son of a Hamas founder has also commented about the true nature of Hamas.

Hamas cannot be allowed to rain rockets on Israeli cities, nor can it be allowed to hold its own people hostage. Hospitals are for healing, not for hiding weapons. Schools are for learning, not for launching missiles. Children are our hope, not our human shields.

The Significance and Relevance Continue reading

8 Most Homophobic Religious Protest Signs

25 Aug

These abhorrent messages are courtesy of Christians, Jews and Muslims.

These hateful homophobic church signs are made not by clergy, but rather the flocks they shepherd: Christians, Jews and Muslims alike. Enjoy!

1. Loophole for lesbians? This sign focuses on the solution to the “problem” of gay marriage. And that solution is hanging. The sign, on display at an Indianapolis rally during the National Organization for Marriage’s Summer for Marriage tour, is based on the book of Leviticus: “If a man also lie with mankind the way he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them.” Sure, this open call for executing gay men is way harsh. But it is surprisingly promising for lesbian women. Guess they can lie with women however they want. Also, where are the signs for enforcing the other punishments laid out in Leviticus, like killing people who curse their parents; shunning people who shave or cut their hair; wearing clothes made of mixed fabrics; having sex with menstruating women; and banning flat-nosed, “lame” or “blind” people from entering the altar of god.

2. GAY: Gay-related acronyms for Yahweh. If you’ve ever wished you had a mnemonic device for bigotry, you’re in luck! You’ll never forget why you hate the homos, thanks to this helpful and clever sign, which was held at a rally attended by 2,000 people in support of a North Carolina pastor who was under attack. What was his crime? He offended people during a Mother’s Day sermon when he quoted the Bible verbatim and said, “I figured a way to get rid of all the lesbians and queers….Build a great big large fence—50 or 100 miles long—put all the lesbians in there. Fly over and drop some food. Do the same thing with the queers and the homosexuals and have that fence electrified so they can’t get out. And you know what, in a few years, they’ll die out. Do you know why? They can’t reproduce!”

3. If these anuses could talk. This sign is from an anti-gay protest organized by religious groups in Kampala, Uganda in 2007. It gets right to the orifice of the matter: “Anus 4 defication.” The tagline, “A spoon is a spoon & a spade is a spade,” reminds us that an anus is an anus. And it’s for defecation. Nothing more. Nothing less.

4. God loves “God Hates Fags” apparel for kids! This isn’t a sign, per se, but it is an effective and kid-friendly way to spread the homophobic and hateful word of god. Kids love shirts that say God Hates Fags (I mean, just look at how happy the little girl is)! And God Loves Parents who use their children as ideological props and dress them in propaganda expressing something kids definitely don’t understand! With these Westboro Baptist Church motto shirts, you can really wear your lack of heart on your children’s sleeve.

5. Men at devious work.Sometimes, a picture speaks 1,000 words. And when the words are in Serbian, it’s especially helpful. This is another kid-friendly and accessible way to say, “I’m really insecure.” Continue reading

St. Louis cops release incriminating video of fatal police shooting, think they look good

21 Aug

Man with knife in Video re-creation

I have to applaud the police of St Louis. They are pretty powerful. Somehow, they managed to take  a video which captures a fatal, unjustified and unnecessary police shooting, and turn it into a video which, they claim, is “exculpatory” and proves that they were in the right.

In order to understand how they were able to transform the footage to suit their needs, let’s review what everyone agrees happened.

On Tuesday, in St Louis, fewer than four miles away from where the unarmed teenager Michael Brown was killed by police, a convenience store owner called 911 to report that a man, later identified as Kajieme Powell, had stolen pastries and energy drinks. Another woman called the police and said that Powell had a knife in his pocket and was behaving erratically. Two white officers arrived in an SUV. 23 seconds later, Powell, who was black, was dead on the ground, having been shot by the two officers.

On Wednesday, The St. Louis Police Department released footage recorded on a cell phone by a bystander. According to a police union representative, the footage released was “exculpatory.” In other words, the police decided to release the footage, along with the 911 calls, to show they had nothing to hide.

But let’s compare the footage of what happened and what the police claimed happened.

Police Claim: the police officers started shooting when Powell was within three or four feet of them.

Footage shows: Police started shooting before Powell was that close.

Via youtube. This is how far away from the cops Powell was when the cops shot him.

Via youtube. This is how far away from the cops Powell was when the cops shot him.

Police Claim: Powell was holding the knife ”in an overhand grip.”

Footage shows: Powell’s hands were by his sides. Continue reading

90-year-old Holocaust survivor arrested at Ferguson protest

20 Aug
Image by Steven Hsieh via The Nation

Image by Steven Hsieh via The Nation

Ninety-year-old Hedy Epstein, who was one of several protestors arrested outside Missouri Governor Jay Nixon’s office, is no stranger to state-sanction discrimination and violence. Epstein fled the Holocaust as a child. A true intersectionalist, she insists on applying the lessons of the past to the present, refusing to remain idle in the face of persecution, whether she’s protesting the demolition of Palestinians’ homes or police brutality and racism in Ferguson.

Epstein was born in 1924 in Freiburg, Germany, but was sent to England at 14 via the Kindertransport, which brought nearly 10,000 children from countries invaded by Nazis right before the start of World War II. Epstein’s parents died during the Holocaust in Auschwitz. Following the war, Hedy returned to Germany, where she worked on the Nuremberg medical trial, against doctors accused of performing medical experiments on concentration camp inmates. In 1948, she joined her only living relatives, an aunt and uncle, in the United States.

While the Holocaust is often invoked to justify Israeli policies, Epstein’s experience as a survivor makes her speak out against the government of Israel: “In 1982, I heard about the massacres in the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila in Lebanon — I wanted to know who was responsible for this, what had happened between 1948 and 1982. As I learned more, I became increasingly disturbed by the policies of Israel and its military.”

As she explains, “The Israeli government’s actions happen far too often in the name of protecting Judaism, thereby conflating Zionism with Judaism. As Jews, we must not let the Israeli government use our heritage to excuse its morally unexcusable actions. Our Jewish values will not let us.” So, Epstein started to visit Palestine, where she’s been several times, and taken part in protest against the Occupation, the wall, and the demolition of Palestinian homes and olive orchards. Epstein published an autobiography, Remembering Is Not Enough, and speaks around the world.

So, it makes sense that Epstein would join the approximately 125 people at a St Louis (where she lives) protest organized by the Organization for Black Struggle against the decision to call the National Guard into Ferguson. They marched to the Governor’s office, demanded a special prosecutor to investigate the murder of Michael Brown, a larger Department of Justice investigation and a withdrawal of the National Guard. They sang, “Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me ’round,” and chanted “Hey hey! Ho ho! National Guard has got to go!” and “Hands up! Don’t shoot!” Epstein was among nine protestors arrested for failing to disperse. They were handcuffed, taken to a police station, given a court date and then released. Continue reading

Tea Party spokesman who said Obama’s blackness kills people breaks into tears on TV

20 Aug

Lloyd Marcus

In this culture of hyper-masculinity, it’s refreshing to see a man who’s not afraid to show his emotions. So, let’s give a round of applause to Lloyd Marcus, the emotionally evolved Tea Party spokesman, and chair of the Conservative Campaign Committee, who broke into tears during an interview today with the right wing “news” outlet Newsmax.

Now, those of us who are fans of Marcus, who describes himself as “not an African-American,” but rather “An Americaaaaaaan!” know that he’s very capable of expressing his emotions. After all, who can forget his compelling headline warning that, “Because [Obama] is Black, Americans Suffer and Die.”

But perhaps an even greater example of his emotional connectedness is his writing the “Tea Party Anthem,” creatively called… “Tea Party Anthem.”

The lyrics deserve attention, because they express Lloyd’s sensibility, his creativity and his innovation. Look at how he employs an experimental second person shift. I certainly wasn’t expecting that. Were you? Continue reading

9 Most Homophobic Church Signs

19 Aug

They’re not exactly preaching peace and tolerance.

Texan televangelist John Hagee called same-sex marriage supporters “counterfeit Christians.” A pastor in Tampa, Florida refused to perform a funeral service when he learned the deceased man had been gay, because that would have been “blasphemous.” And Pastor Steve Washburn of First Baptist Pflugerville, Texas, is warning that pastors will be imprisoned for speaking out in favor of same-sex marriage. And that was just this week.

Certain church leaders certainly seem to be re-prioritizing Jesus’ to-do list. They’ve decided to ignore the Bible’s minor points, like turn the other cheek and that whole Golden Rule thing. Also, they’re not going to worry so much about the poor. These shepherds, instead, demonstrate their love for Jesus Christ by hating on homosexuality. They instruct their flock by broadcasting messages of homophobia—literally—on church signs and marquees. Here are some of the worst church signs preaching against brotherly love.

1. Ménage a trois with God. This sign, which was placed in front of the Devon Park United Methodist Church polling site in Wilmington, North Carolina, may go down in history for being the first, and probably only, religious sign to push a threesome as an alternative to same-sex marriage. The sign’s message is so urgent, no time or plastic could be spared for punctuation: “A true marriage male and female and god.” The takeaway? Marriage exists between one man and one woman and the omnipresent voyeur known as god.

Ménage a trois with God

2. God good, gays bad! In this sign, on display at the Santa Clara Jesus Is Lord Baptist Church in California, the beauty is in its simplicity: “God is good/Gays are bad/vote Yes on Prop Eight.” If only all get-out-the-vote initiatives were this straightforward and Manichean, voting rates would go through the roof. Prop 8, the statewide ballot proposition in California to ban same-sex marriage, brought together churches, synagogues, Mormons, Catholics, evangelicals and Orthodox Jews, who were able to put aside their religious differences and come together in a beautiful interfaith collaborative effort to strip people of their civil rights. Because, at the end of the day, we may call him different names, but we all believe in the same god, who happens to be very homophobic.

God good, gays bad!

3. Homophobic haiku. This short and catchy “Gay Is not Okay” sign appeared outside of Fort Des Moines Church of Christ in South Des Moines, Iowa. Pastor Mike DeMastus was merely using the church’s illuminated marquee to advertise the theme of his upcoming Sunday sermon, something he does for every sermon every week. Besides being an effective promotional tool, the minimalist text is just 12 syllables shy of being a homophobic haiku. Continue reading

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