Let Me Gunsplain That To You

In response to yesterday’s post about the shooting of John Crawford in an Ohio Wal*Mart, a patriotic American gun enthusiast has the following to say to me:

If only he wasn’t waving around a mock weapon in a store and refusing police orders to drop the weapon instead of lawfully carrying a WEAPON in a public place he might not have gotten shot. It’s tragic that someone lost their life because of a air soft gun, but this isn’t about race. Don’t even try to spew that bullcrap.

Here are the key pieces of information, as I see them:

1) Crawford, a black man who was shot to death by police, was holding an unloaded gun sold by the store in an area of the store where these guns are sold; at the time he was shot to death, he was on his cell phone.

2) The police were called by another customer because Crawford was holding a gun in the store and looked like he was going to rob the store or shoot someone. There don’t appear to have been other calls made to the police about Crawford.

3) Crawford told police that the gun “wasn’t real” before they shot him.

Now let’s name some instances in which white guys brought their own loaded rifles into local businesses and no one called the police or complained in any way (and thus the police didn’t arrive and shoot anyone to death).

You see, this is what “lawfully carrying a WEAPON in a public place” looks like:

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This guy, however, could not walk around with an unloaded air rifle in a store that sells unloaded air rifles without getting shot to death by police:

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Because the freedom to carry around a gun wherever and whenever you want is reserved for white people in this country.

No One in America Should Have to Wait 7 Hours to Vote

No matter who wins the presidential race, no matter which party controls Congress, can we at least agree as reasonable adults that when it comes to voting itself the election of 2012 is a national disgrace? We ask our sons and daughters, our husbands and wives, to give their lives abroad for noble concepts like “freedom” and “democracy.” And yet we are content as a nation, and as a people, to tolerate another cycle of election rules that require our fellow citizens to sacrifice a measure of basic human dignity simply to exercise their right to vote. […]

This is happening not because of a natural disaster or breakdown in machinery. It is happening by partisan design. Alarmed by the strong Democratic turnout in early voting in 2008, Republican lawmakers, including Governor Rick Scott, reduced the number of early voting days from 14 to eight. When the restrictions were challenged in federal court under the Voting Rights Act, a three-judge panel said they would have a discriminatory impact upon minority voters. But only five of the state’s 67 counties are covered by the federal civil rights law.

Read more. [Image: Michael Finnegan/Twitter]

Maps featuring Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, North Carolina, Virginia, North Dakota, Ohio, and Wisconsin regarding how many clinics will close down in the states affected. 

Three of those mentioned were won by Obama both times (Wisconsin, Ohio, Virginia) and a fourth (North Carolina) was won by Obama in 2008, then Romney in 2012.

John was doing nothing wrong in Walmart, nothing more, nothing less than shopping.
— 

That’s Michael Wright, an attorney representing the family of John Crawford III, who was shot and killed by police in an Ohio Wal*Mart last month. Wright insists that the account presented by police and the former Marine who called 911 is contradicted by video surveillance footage:

The attorney said surveillance video showed Crawford facing away from officers, talking on the phone, and leaning on the pellet gun like a cane when he was “shot on sight” in a “militaristic” response by police.

So, yeah. That sounds an awful lot like murder.

It’s interesting the way this story has pretty much vanished from the news since it happened a few days before another police officer in a different state murdered another unarmed young black man.

Tracy Chapman: Why she kicks ass

  • She is a singer and song writer.
  • She has won the Grammy Awards four times.
  • She is a multi-platinum artist.
  • Her song “Fast Car" was ranked by Rolling Stone as number 165 on their list of "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time"; the highest ranking song both written and performed by a woman.
  • She has a strong interest in human rights; this is reflected often by her music (see: “Talkin’ ‘Bout A Revolution" which is about speaking up against injustice).
  • She performed in London as part of a worldwide concert tour to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with Amnesty International (1988).
  • She performed in the Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute, an event which raised money for South Africa’s Anti-Apartheid Movement and seven children’s charities (1988).
  • In 2004 she performed at and rode in the AIDSLifeCycle event.
  • She sponsored an essay contest for high school students in Cleveland and other cities, "Crossroads in Black History".
  • She was given an honorary doctorate in Fine Arts by her alma mater, Tufts University, recognizing her commitment to social activism.
  • She often performs at and attends charity events such as Make Poverty History, amfAR and AIDS/LifeCycle, to support social causes.

Thanks to the high-profile battle over new abortion restrictions in Texas this past summer, the national media typically associates the Lone Star State with harsh abortion laws. The dire situation in Texas is certainly alarming for reproductive rights activists — but it’s hardly the only state where women’s access to abortion is under siege.

Ohio has recently dramatically tightened its restrictions on abortion, and the number of clinics in the state is dwindling. State lawmakers haven’t shown any signs of ceasing their politically-motivated attacks on reproductive health care. Yet unlike Texas, Ohio women’s fights haven’t garnered much widespread attention.

“Ohio is one of the most restrictive states in the U.S. when it comes to abortion care. Texas gets a lot of the press, but really, some of the laws that Texas is enacting are stolen from Ohio,” an abortion provider who practices in Ohio, speaking anonymously to protect her identity, told ThinkProgress in an interview earlier this month.

In 2011, Ohio enacted a ban on later abortions that prohibits doctors from ending a pregnancy after 20 weeks unless the fetus is nonviable. Since the new law doesn’t adequately distinguish between elective abortions and medically necessary abortions, that leaves some women who discover serious fetal abnormalities — which typically aren’t evident until later in pregnancy— in a difficult spot. They’re either forced to carry the doomed pregnancy to term, or doctors are forced to refer them out of state.

“Some of the only complaints I get from patients are when I have to turn them away. When I tell them, I’m sorry, I can’t help you, I know how to do the procedure and I could do it safely, but I can’t,” the anonymous Ohio provider told ThinkProgress. “It’s heartbreaking. People are begging you — as a physician, you know you can help them, but the only reason you can’t is because of a state law.”

On top of that, Ohio pushed through a package of stringent abortion restrictions this past summer by attaching them to an unrelated budget bill. The anti-choice groups in the state celebrated the passage of that legislation as “historic.” Some of the new restrictions are intended to dissuade women from ending a pregnancy, requiring their doctors to give them an opportunity to listen to the fetal heartbeat and tell them about the fetus’ likelihood of “surviving to full term.” Others are specifically aimed at abortion clinics, using a tactic known as the Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) to indirectly undermine women’s access to the procedure.

Over-regulating abortion clinics is a popular anti-choice strategy, and Texas’ new TRAP law has grabbed headlines for forcing dozens of clinics to close. But Ohio’s TRAP law is actually even more stringent than the ones in place in other states.

TRAP laws typically take two different forms (and many states, like Texas, enact both versions). The first type requires abortion clinics to bring their building codes in line with the standards for ambulatory surgical centers, which typically involves costly and unnecessary updates like widening hallways and installing drinking fountains. The second type requires abortion doctors to enter into partnerships with local hospitals, in case one of their patients experiences severe complications and needs to be transferred to emergency care. These transfer agreements are totally superfluous, don’t indicate how skilled an abortion provider is, and are opposed by major medical groups.

Ohio’s version of the second type of TRAP law is unique. In addition to requiring abortion providers to make a transfer agreement with a local hospital, Ohio’s law forbids public hospitals from entering into those partnerships. That means the University of Toledo, which used to partner with the abortion clinics in the state’s fourth-largest city in order to allow them to stay open, can no longer play this role. That’s forcing multiple abortion clinics to close their doors even though they have a record of providing safe reproductive health care.

Ohio’s law also gives the governor considerable power to ensure that clinics are forced out out of business. It’s written in a way that allows the director of the state health department — a politically appointed position — to have the final say about whether clinics’ transfer agreements are good enough. Kellie Copeland, the executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, referred to the new clinic standards as “a regulatory witch hunt” when facilities first started shutting down this past fall.

Now, the women who live in Toledo and Cincinnati — some of the state’s most populous cities — are in danger of losing access to nearby abortion clinics altogether. Two clinics in the Cincinnati area are struggling to remain open, and if they’re unsuccessful, the region will become the largest metropolitan area in the country without an abortion clinic. Meanwhile, Toledo’s last abortion clinic is fighting to get the state health department to approve a transfer agreement with a private hospital located across the border in Michigan, but state officials appear poised to argue that Michigan hospitals don’t count as “local.”

As women in Ohio are facing mounting barriers to reproductive health services, they’re being forced to leave the state to get the care they need. Abortion clinics in neighboring Michigan have seen an influx in Ohio patients over the last several months. The facility located nearest to Toledo has even hired additional staff to accommodate the recent increase, and is worried about what will happen if Toledo’s last clinic shuts down. Not every woman can afford to make a trip across state lines.

Reproductive rights advocates in the state are well aware of what they’re up against.

“Governor John Kasich has enacted more restrictions on access to reproductive health care — including safe, legal abortion and family planning services — than any governor in memory. None of his policies will help prevent unintended pregnancy and therefore the need for abortion. In fact, quite the opposite,” NARAL’s Copeland told ThinkProgress in an email exchange. “And more anti-choice measures are pending in the Ohio Legislature. On top of all of that, Governor Kasich is abusing his regulatory authority in an attempt to close abortion clinics across Ohio.”

So why haven’t you heard more about Ohio? Because the abortion opponents there are doing a good job framing the situation on their terms and largely remaining under the radar.

“Ohio has become a laboratory for what anti-abortion leaders call the incremental strategy — passing a web of rules designed to push the hazy boundaries of Supreme Court guidelines without flagrantly violating them,” the New York Times reported in October. “These laws have passed without the national drama provoked by far-reaching abortion bans that were approved, then overturned in court, in states like Arkansas and North Dakota.”

Ohio Right to Life, the largest anti-choice group in the state, is hoping that this incremental approach will eventually end abortion in the state altogether. The group’s president, Mike Gonidakis, recently told Gannett Ohio that closing all of Ohio’s abortion clinics is well within the bounds of Roe v. Wade because women would still have “access” to clinics in other states.

“There is no law or court ruling about mileage or length of time to get to a clinic,” Gonidakis said.

And abortion opponents show no sign of stopping, indicating that they’ll continue to use the state’s regulatory system to accomplish that ultimate goal. This past week, anti-choice groups began calling for a larger investigation into Ohio’s abortion clinics, claiming that it’s “ironic” that reproductive rights advocates have complained about the harsh new clinic standards when “it appears that the regulations aren’t strict enough.”

Copeland told ThinkProgress that the state’s elected officials will eventually feel the consequences of their recent anti-abortion crusade. “Ohio women are fed up with politicians interfering with their medical decisions and they will make that known when they go to the polls in November,” Copeland noted.

H/T: Tara Culp-Ressler at Think Progress Health

Frontpage: Monday, Mar 5th

  1. Tight Races in Ohio, Tennessee: It’s going to be a tight race Tuesday, at least in Tennessee, where a recent poll shows Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum within just a few percentage points of each other. The results of a recent Ohio poll are almost exactly the same, but in reverse: Romney is leading Santorum among Ohio voters 34 percent to 31 percent.
  2. More Advertisers Abandon Limbaugh: It’s unclear whether Rush Limbaugh’s apology will be enough to keep his advertisers. The conservative radio host has now lost seven of them, with flower company ProFlowers being the latest. 
  3. Deepwater Drilling Roars Back to Life: Nearly two years after the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, deepwater drilling has regained momentum in that region and around the world. Now that the yearlong drilling moratorium has been lifted, many oil companies, including BP, have resumed drilling in the area, often in waters out of American control, but where an accident would still impact the United States.
  4. Police Surround Moscow: A day after he choked up celebrating his “clear victory” over his rivals, Russian President-elect Vladimir Putin ordered 12,000 police to prepare for protests.
  5. EU Eyes Quota for Women: The European Union is considering legislating mandatory quotas for the number of women on corporate boards, Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding warned businesses Monday after European firms failed to back a voluntary pledge. 

Read More Cheats

Photo: Fifteen thousand skiers start the 88th Vasaloppet cross-country marathon, one of the oldest, longest and biggest ski races in the world in Mora, Sweden. (Jonathan Nackstrand, AFP / GETTY IMAGES)

Grand Jury Indicts Newly Elected Ohio Tea Party Representative On Three Felony Counts (VIDEO)

Grand Jury Indicts Newly Elected Ohio Tea Party Representative On Three Felony Counts (VIDEO)

An Ottawa County, Ohio Grand Jury recently indicted newly elected Tea Party state representative, Steven Kraus, on three felony charges. The Grand Jury found that there is probable cause to try Kraus for burglary, theft and breaking and entering.

Kraus, who made his living as a real estate agent and auctioneer prior to being elected as an Ohio state representative on November 4, 2014, was seen…

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Women Dressed As Binders Protest At OhioGOP HQ

Tiffany Ricci, an AFSCME organizer, provided TPM’s Evan McMorris-Santoro these photos of her “own personal little afternoon project” of women gathered in front the Ohio Republican Party headquarters on Wednesday dressed as binders protesting Mitt Romney’s “binders full of women” remark during the presidential debate at Hofstra Tuesday night.

It’s “pretty clear which candidate has real solutions that inspire progress and which can only inspire a Halloween costume,” Ricci said.

Ohio voters will no longer be able to take part in early voting on Sundays or weekday nights, according to hours set by Secretary of State Jon Husted.

The AP reports voters will only get two Saturdays to cast early, in-person ballots during the statewide election this fall.

In a release on the “fair and uniform voting hours,” Husted explained the goal of cutting back on opportunities for early voting.

“In 2014, absentee voters will have the option of voting in person for four weeks, or they can vote without ever leaving home by completing the absentee ballot request form we will be sending all voters,” Husted said. “Our goal is to make it easy to vote and hard to cheat and to ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity in the voting process no matter which method they choose.”

The cuts to early voting hours could negatively impact African-Americans and voters who take part in “Souls to the Polls” drives after church on the Sundays leading up to Election Day, MSNBC reports:

There’s little doubt that cuts to early voting target blacks disproportionately. In 2008, black voters were 56% of all weekend voters in Cuyahoga County, Ohio’s largest, even though they made up just 28% of the county’s population.

“By completely eliminating Sundays from the early voting schedule, Secretary Husted has effectively quashed successful Souls to the Polls programs that brought voters directly form church to early voting sites,” said Mike Brickner, a spokesman for the Ohio American Civil Liberties Union, in an email.

On the Sunday ahead of the 2012 elections, voters faced extremely long lines at polling locations in Ohio. That year, early voting in the state had been reduced from the five weekends before the election to only the weekend right before Election Day.

See the entire release on the decision here.

h/t: Paige Lavender at The Huffington Post

A public service announcement for my fellow Americans. Please take the time to vote today. Tumblr will still be here when you get back.

Watch on kohenari.net

CNN broke the news on Sunday of a guilty verdict in a rape case in Steubenville, Ohio by lamenting that the “promising” lives of the rapists had been ruined, but spent very little time focusing on how the 16-year-old victim would have to live with what was done to her.

In case anyone wonders what rape culture is all about.