Sunday, August 26, 2012

A Normal Shooting Incident

The Guardian reports on the shooting near the Empire State Building in NYC:
"A laid-off clothing designer killed his former manager before being shot dead by police in New York on Friday after a workplace dispute escalated into a shootout near the Empire State Building. At least nine people were wounded during the attack, in one of the most crowded areas of Manhattan. Some of those injured may have been shot by police as they shot at the gunman, who pointed his handgun at them but is understood not to have fired. The shooting led to panic in the tourist-heavy streets around the Empire State Building, with fears that another mass shooting was under way. However, it became clear that it was not a random attack when police revealed that the victim had been targeted... Police named the suspect as Jeffrey Johnson, a 58-year-old who had been employed for six years as a designer of women's accessories at Hazan Imports, a business that operates from premises in midtown near the Empire State Building. New York police commissioner Raymond Kelly said during a press conference that he was laid off as part of a downsizing at the firm. Kelly described the gunman as a "disgruntled former employee" who came back to confront his former manager. "He shot and killed the former co-worker, striking him three times," Kelly said."
"Questions have been raised over the New York police department's handling of a shooting near the Empire State Building after armed officers injured nine passers-by as they pursued a gunman who had just shot dead his former boss. One of those injured by police told the Guardian that officers appeared to fire "randomly" as they confronted Jeffrey Johnson, 58, minutes after a workplace dispute escalated into a chaotic shootout in one of the busiest parts of Manhattan. Reports suggest that while Johnson drew his gun when he was confronted by officers, he did not fire; all those injured appear to have been shot by police."
Oh well what can you say? Thank God it was just some guy who killed his boss and not a deranged mass murderer. Or it was a mass shooting but since the mass shooting was done by the police we can all breath easier. This is so fucked up on so many levels it strains the mind to realize this was a "normal shooting incident". As in a "normal shooting incident" in Iraq or Afghanistan for example.
The Beverly Killbillies capture the general mood:

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Almost Gone by Graham Nash and James Raymond

Pussy Riot And The Relativity of Outrage

The above clip from illustrates the strong feelings evoked in Russia by the Pussy Riot case. Counterpunch published closing statements from two of the defendants: Yekatrina Samusevich
"Our sudden musical appearance in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior with the song “Mother of God, Drive Putin Out” violated the integrity of this media image, generated and maintained by the authorities for so long, and revealed its falsity. In our performance we dared, without the Patriarch’s blessing, to combine the visual image of Orthodox culture and protest culture, suggesting to smart people that Orthodox culture belongs not only to the Russian Orthodox Church, the Patriarch and Putin, that it might also take the side of civic rebellion and protest in Russia. Perhaps such an unpleasant large-scale effect from our media intrusion into the cathedral was a surprise to the authorities themselves. First they tried to present our performance as the prank of heartless militant atheists. But they made a huge blunder, since by this time we were already known as an anti-Putin feminist punk band that carried out their media raids on the country’s major political symbols. In the end, considering all the irreversible political and symbolic losses caused by our innocent creativity, the authorities decided to protect the public from us and our nonconformist thinking. Thus ended our complicated punk adventure in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior."
and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova
"We are grateful to all those who, free themselves, speak out in our support. There are a vast number, I know. I know that a huge number of Orthodox people are standing up for us. They are praying for us outside the courtroom, for the members of Pussy Riot who are incarcerated. We’ve seen the little booklets Orthodox people are handing out with prayers for those in prison. This shows that there isn’t a unified social group of Orthodox believers as the prosecution is endeavouring to say. No such thing exists. More and more believers are starting to defend Pussy Riot. They don’t think what we did deserves even five months in detention, much less the three years in prison the prosecutor would like. And every day, more and more people realize that if this political system has ganged up to this extent against three girls for a 30-second performance in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, it means the system is afraid of the truth and afraid of our sincerity and directness. We haven’t dissembled, not for a second, not for a minute during this trial, but the other side is dissembling too much and people can sense it. People can sense the truth. Truth really does have some kind of ontological, existential superiority over lies and this is written in the Bible, in the Old Testament in particular. In the end, the ways of truth always triumph over the ways of wickedness, guile and lies. And with each day that passes, the ways of truth are more and more triumphant even though we are still behind bars and are likely to be here a lot longer yet."
While one can respect the risk these women have taken I would ask those in the West who embrace their cause where they stand on the case of Bradley Manning who faces life in prison or Julian Assange who potentially faces death for basically acting as an investigative journalist. These cases raise similar issues involving free speech and freedom of information that challenge the notion of freedom and justice in both societies.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Romney Girl

A lighthearted look at the next leader of the greatest kleptocracy on earth.