25
Apr
15

a different pie

1.

“The difference between white people and Indians is that Indian people know they are oppressed but don’t feel powerless. White people don’t feel oppressed, but feel powerless. Deconstruct that disempowerment. Part of the mythology that they’ve been teaching you is that you have no power.

“Power is not brute force and money; power is in your spirit. Power is in your soul. It is what your ancestors, your old people gave you. Power is in the earth; it is in your relationship to the earth.

“The question of socialism or communism or capitalism or between the left and right—I think the important question is between the industrial society and the earth-based society. And I say that because I believe that capitalism and communism are really much more about how the wealth is distributed, if it trickles down or is appropriated at the beginning to those who have worked for it.

“But, you know, someone has to question where the wealth came from. What right does society have to the wealth? What is the relationship between that society and the land from which it got its wealth? Those are the questions that should be asked.

“The essence of the problem is about consumption, recognizing that a society that consumes one-third of the world’s resources is unsustainable. This level of consumption requires constant intervention into other people’s lands. That’s what’s going on.

“We don’t want a bigger piece of the pie. We want a different pie.”

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Winona LaDuke
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—  Winona LaDuke
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Winona LaDuke (born 1959) is an American activist, environmentalist, economist, and writer, known for her work on tribal land claims and preservation, as well as sustainable development.
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24
Apr
15

we’re #1

Cory Booker.

What’s better for America’s status?

Here’s a pop quiz: What’s better for America’s status in the world?

A) Being a global leader in innovation, job creation, education, social mobility, literacy and child health.

B) Being a global leader in imprisoning the highest number of human beings—its own citizens.

It’s an obvious answer. But the unfortunate reality is that the United States leads the world in incarceration, not education.

Our country has shown time and again a nearly unlimited capacity to reinvent itself and move closer to the ideals on which our society was founded.

Yet we have emerged as the global leader in a race that no nation would want to even be a contender in. While our country is home to only 5% of the world’s total population, we are home to 25% of the world’s prison population. And nearly three-fourths of this population is comprised of nonviolent offenders.

At the same time, we are losing the increasingly important race to educate our citizens.

Where the United States was once ranked first in high school graduation rates, we now rank 23rd in high school completion among 30 of the world’s most developed nations.

Where we were once the driving force of the global economy, we now rank fifth in the World Economic Forum’s global competitiveness index. Key metrics in this index include the quality of a nation’s primary, secondary and higher education systems.

Instead of empowering the next generation of American artists, scientists, engineers, inventors and entrepreneurs, our country has chosen to devote a massive amount of resources, time and energy to locking people up. By imprisoning individuals, we also burden families, condemn generations to cycles of poverty and breed economic inequality.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Congress chose to adopt laws that drastically changed the way our country handled nonviolent drug crimes. Since then, the American prison population has increased by nearly 800% over the past 30 years. Over 2.7 million American children have a parent who is incarcerated, and 10 million American children at one time in their lives had a parent in prison.

Americans of color are disproportionately burdened by the failures of our justice system. There are more black men in prison or under state or federal supervision today than there were enslaved in 1850. And while African Americans make up only 13.6% of the total US population, they make up a whopping 40.2% of the US prison population.

The sad reality is that in today’s America, prisoners are never truly free from the burdens of our criminal justice system.

A report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research concluded that once released from prison, an ex-offender’s prospects for obtaining employment statistically decreased. The report estimated that, in 2008, ex-offender employment losses cost our economy the equivalent of 1.5 to 1.7 million workers, or $57 billion to $65 billion annually. It’s therefore no surprise that American prisons have become revolving doors, with two out of every three former offenders rearrested within three years of their release.

The millions of wives, sisters, husbands, daughters, sons, friends and the people they love who have been incarcerated are burdened disproportionately by an outdated, archaic and overly punitive system. These millions of Americans have the ability to advance our country, our economy and our global competitiveness. They just need to be given the opportunity.

American taxpayers aren’t free from the burdens of our criminal justice system either.

In addition to the billions lost in jobs and productivity, Americans spend over a quarter of a trillion dollars each year to keep millions of nonviolent, low-level offenders imprisoned. The price tag is truly staggering.

It costs on average $29,000 a year to house one inmate at the federal level. In contrast, our country spends a little over $11,000 dollars a year per elementary school student. Imagine the good we could do if we could re-appropriate those tens of billions of dollars in taxpayer money and economic losses away from imprisonment and toward investment in our children’s future.

We must start to deconstruct the perverse order of our priorities and build a more just society by making needed changes at the federal level. We must examine the way our criminal justice system works—or rather, doesn’t—and take the necessary actions to change it.

Fortunately, there is already a road map for successfully addressing these problems. We know reforms will work because they already are in states across the country. In both blue states such as New Jersey and Connecticut and red states such as Texas and Georgia, state and local officials have developed and instituted sweeping reforms that have reduced their prison populations and crime rates.

They are succeeding by focusing their efforts on areas where the criminal justice system most needs reform. We should follow their example on the federal level.

First, we should pass legislation that promotes “front end” reform, such as ending mandatory minimum sentencing for nonviolent drug crimes.

Secondly, we should pass legislation that enacts “behind the wall” reforms, such as eradicating the cruel practice of juvenile solitary confinement.

And thirdly, we should enact “back end” reforms with legislation that assists in sealing criminal records and removing barriers to employment for nonviolent formerly incarcerated people.

As we reform our criminal justice system at the national level, we will alter the cycles of poverty and recidivism that plague too many American communities and start to develop virtuous cycles of excellence.

Instead of putting resources toward juvenile detention centers, we can put resources toward afterschool programs that have proved to help keep kids out of the juvenile justice system and in school.

Instead of losing valuable contributors to our economy because of their status as ex-offenders, we can develop apprenticeship and training programs that improve worker skills and jump start our economy.

Instead of asking American taxpayers to pay for warehousing people who commit nonviolent, low-level, crimes, we can make sure that students of all ages have access to math, science and technology schooling that will help them excel in the workforce and as productive members of society.

Let’s devote our resources to empowering our citizens, not imprisoning them.

Let’s choose to raise our expectations as a country, and let’s meet them.

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Cory A. Booker is a Democratic senator from New Jersey. He was a keynote speaker for a New America conference April 23 and 24, and this is what he said.

۞

Groove of the Day

Listen to Thin Lizzy performing “Jailbreak”

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Weather Report

70° and Cloudy

23
Apr
15

the age of man

B30 Dinosaur.

Some of my favorite destinations on the Internet are those sites where non-traditional, non-mainstream, non-conformist historians and archeologists claim that human civilization is much older than traditional, mainstream, conformist experts say it is.

The conventional view is heavily influenced by the ideas of Charles Darwin—namely evolution—and a belief in the diffusion of civilizing ideas displacing more primitive lifestyles. The establishment says that civilization as we know it was impossible before 10,000 BC, which was the dawning of the Neolithic (or agriculture-based) age. Before that was the Paleolithic (or hunter-gatherer) age. After 10,000 BC, goes the traditional narrative, most of the world transitioned to the Neolithic stage of development at different rates by region. For instance, Neolithic life was achieved in Mesopotamia around 10,000 BC; in Greece, 7,000 BC; in India, 5,000 BC; in Britain, 3,000 BC.

The revisionists dispute this view. They claim that civilization on Earth is much older than this.

Some of the revisionists are inspired by Plato’s story of the civilization of Atlantis, which Plato (428?– 348? BC) claims he had heard indirectly from Athenian statesman and lawmaker Solon (638–558 BC) —who lived  three hundred years before Plato—through Egyptian priests who read about Atlantis in the ancient texts. The revisionists believe that the legend may have actually happened. The mainstreamers, on the other hand, believe that the story is an allegory invented by Plato to illustrate the hubris of nations. At the end of Plato’s account, as we all know, Atlantis eventually falls out of favor with the gods and famously submerges into the Atlantic Ocean.

Some of the revisionists are inspired by stories in the Bible and many other religious texts which describe a worldwide flood, which they say are a remnant memory of a time when the sea level rose and flooded many sites of civilization all over the world. There is basis in fact for this belief. Between 17,000 and 7,000 years ago, at the end of the last Ice Age, the great ice caps over northern Europe and North America melted down.

aftericeage2 innundated Bronze AgeThe sea level rose by more than 328 feet (100 meters), and flooded about 15.5 million square miles (25 million square kilometers) of formerly habitable lands. Some of the flooded land is shown in red on this map. Fishermen of northwest India’s Gulf of Cambay and the Poompuhar Coast say their fishing nets snag on underwater structures there, approximately 120 feet (36.5 meters) beneath the surface.

There are ancient Tamil flood myths that speak of a great kingdom that once existed in this area called Kumari Kandam that was swallowed up by the sea. Amazingly the myths put a date of 11,600 years ago on these events—the same time frame given by Plato for the end of Atlantis, and the same time frame for the end of the last Ice Age. They have since discovered two ancient cities there the size of Manhattan.

Human artifacts dredged from the seabed have been dated at over 9,500 years old—and the structures could easily be more ancient still.

There are revisionists who suggest the possibility that the Great Sphinx and pyramids of Egypt are much older than the building date of 2,560 BC—4,500 years ago—ascribed to them by traditional archeologists. They point to at least three factors supporting their view. First, the pyramids’ method of construction still defies our comprehension or replication. Surely an unknown building technology—one explained by an advanced civilization—must have been employed.

sphinxlightsSecond, evidence of erosion on the Great Sphinx suggests to geologists that water erosion—not wind—is responsible for the Sphinx’s present condition. The Sphinx sits on the edge of the Sahara Desert and the region has been arid for the last 5,000 years. Various structures securely dated to the Old Kingdom show only erosion that was caused by wind and sand (very distinct from water erosion). The oldest portions of the Great Sphinx must therefore date back to an earlier period (at least 5,000 BC, and maybe as early as 7,000 or 9,000 BC), a time when the climate included more rain.

According to one of the revisionists, this is a conservative estimate that has been admitted by one of its main proponents as too conservative; he places the age of the Great Sphinx at 36,000 BC (until proved wrong).

Third, the pyramids have been postulated by astro-archeologists to represent the belt in the constellation of Orion, which is itself associated with Osiris, the ancient Egyptian god of rebirth and eternal life.

shaftstostars2cExamination of the mysterious “ventilation shafts” built into the Great Pyramid show that the shafts point to important stars that last aligned with the shafts on the Vernal Equinox in 10,500 BC (due to the precession of equinoxes, which is a slow, gravity-induced, and continuous change in the orientation of the Earth’s rotational axis that takes approximately 26,000 years to return to its original position).

The main (or most well-known) revisionist proponents of these views described so far are Graham Hancock, Robert Bauval, Robert Schock, and John Anthony West. Links to each of their websites are provided should you want to delve into what they each have to say about the age of human civilization.

Yet they seem downright timid in their views compared to Michael Cremo, who describes his writings as having been inspired by the literature of the ancient Vedic scriptures of India, and himself as a proponent of “Puranic Time.” He places human existence in the context of repeating time cycles called yugas and kalpas, lasting hundreds of millions of years. According to Puranic accounts as described by Cremo, we are now in the twenty-eighth yuga cycle of the seventh manvatara period of the present day of Brahma. This would give an Earth inhabited by humans an age of about 2 billion years.

Now I wouldn’t even bother to mention Cremo’s ideas were it not for the existence of some very anomalist evidence which is impossible to explain in the conventional context of human history. I will mention just five:

table mountain(1) During the Gold Rush, miners dug a tunnel into the side of Table Mountain in the Sierra Nevada Mountains near Senora CA to get at the gold. Deep inside the mountain in solid rock, the miners were finding human bones and human artifacts which included obsidian spear points, stone mortars and pestles, etc. The stone stratus that surrounded these finds was dated by modern geologists at 50 million years old. These were all collected by California State Geologist J.D. Whitney, who published a report about them at Harvard University in 1880. The artifacts are still stored by the University of California, but officials restrict access to them.

451118a-i1.0(2) In 1979, famous archeologist Mary Leakey discovered fossilized tracks of footprints through petrified ash (turned to mud in the rain) at Laetoli, in Tanzania, which are indistinguishable from those of modern humans. The footprints are about 3.6 million years old.

(3) An anatomically modern human skull was found by Professor Giuseppe Ragazzoni in 1880 at Castenedolo, Italy. The stratum from which it was taken is assigned to the Astian stage of the Pliocene. The rock above the excavation was found to be unbroken, eliminating the possibility that the artifact was placed there in modern times.  According to modern experts, the Astian belongs to the Middle Pliocene, which would give the skull an age of 3-4 million years.

(4) In 1862, a human skeleton was found 90 feet deep in coal in Macoupin County, IL. Immediately above the skeleton was 2 feet of unbroken slate rock. The coal in which the skeleton was found was from the Carboniferous period, making the fossil about 300 million years old. The report of this discovery was printed in the December 1862 edition of a scientific journal called The Geologist.

reck_skull(5) The first significant African discovery related to human origins occurred in 1913 when Professor Hans Reck, of Berlin University, found a human skeleton in the upper part of Bed II at Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania. Modern dating methods give a late Early Pleistocene date of around 1.15 million years for this site. Reck said, “The bed in which the human remains were found….showed no sign of disturbance.” The skeleton was distorted by compression from the weight of substantial accumulation of sediment in the overlying strata. W. O. Dietrich, writing in 1933, stated that this feature of the skeleton argued against its being a recent, shallow burial. George Grant MacCurdy, a leading anthropologist from Yale University, considered Reck’s discovery to be genuine.

These are only five of hundreds of accounts. In 1891 a housewife in Illinois discovered a gold chain about 10 inches long inside a solid lump of coal. The coal containing the chain was of the Carboniferous age, about 300 million years old. In 1912 a man in Oklahoma found an iron pot in a block of coal. The coal was traced to a mine where the coal was about 312 million years old. And on and on.

So why have such numerous discoveries been dismissed by the scientific and archeological establishment?

Remember the Harvard report by J.D. Whitney about the discoveries at Table Mountain? William H. Holmes, a very powerful anthropologist working contemporaneously at the Smithsonian Institution wrote: “Perhaps if Professor Whitney had fully appreciated the story of human evolution as it is understood today, he would have hesitated to announce the conclusions formulated, notwithstanding the imposing array of testimony with which he was confronted.” In other words, if the facts do not conform to the favored theory, then the facts (even a lot of them) must be set aside.

Cremo calls this process “information filtration.” Sounds very civil and polite, doesn’t it? Cremo claims he doesn’t really suspect the motives of his establishment critics. It is only human nature to disbelieve what you know can’t possibly be true.

I suspect, however, that this is a carefully-crafted position. Hell, Cremo believes that mankind has been present on the Earth almost as long as life itself. He believes that human beings  co-existed with the dinosaurs. He is accustomed to making “outrageous” claims of many millions of years, whereas revisionists such as Graham Hancock or Robert Bauval are scrapping for just tens of thousands of years. Cremo is probably used to being dismissed as a madman for his Vedic views, but Hancock or Bauval must think that their claims are far more reasonable and deserving of a respectful listen—even if the establishment-types do not. Hancock even suffered the indignity of having a TED talk he delivered removed from YouTube because its ideas ruffled too many feathers.

I don’t care what you think of me for entertaining alternative ideas about history. I have reached no cast-in-concrete conclusions, and I’m not teaching your kids in our monopoly school system. I have always been suspicious of the herd mentality. Discerning the truth of things is not a matter of voting. Yet it’s not as if I’m a creationist or Holocaust denier. This isn’t yet Europe or Canada where you can be found guilty and punished for thought crimes, or for even just asking the wrong questions or telling the truth (in some matters, the truth is legally no excuse).

Anyway, asking “What If” questions is damned entertaining when you only see other people once or twice a week. I keep to myself; so I’m harmless enough. Plus, I’ve got a daily blog to write.

۞

Groove of the Day

Listen to Elton John performing “Madman Across the Water”

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Weather Report

74° and Cloudy

22
Apr
15

status offenders

ap-juviniles-escorted-jail-jpg - Copy

New Report Finds Incarceration for ‘Status Offenses’ Still Widespread

by Gary Gately, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange

April 10, 2015

More than half of US states allow children to be detained for repeated nonviolent “status offenses” such as skipping school, running away from home or possession of alcohol, a new report says.

The revelation comes more than 40 years after the landmark Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) stipulated that in states receiving federal juvenile justice grants, no child should be locked up for such minor transgressions. They’re called status offenses because they are considered crimes owing only to a youth’s status as a juvenile.

The provision of the 1974 JJDPA calling for “deinstitutionalization” of status offenders had led to a marked decline in detention of these youths.

But the JJDPA, the main federal juvenile justice law, was amended in 1980 to include an exception allowing judges to confine a youth adjudicated guilty for a status offense if the child had violated a “valid court order” not to repeat the offense. The survey, by the Washington-based Coalition for Juvenile Justice (CJJ), showed most of the cases of children being detained for status offenses occurred in just a handful of states. But judges can still detain repeat status offenders under the exception in 26 states and Washington DC.

CJJ’s 64-page report found the names used to describe status offenses and what constitutes a status offense varied widely among states.

In an email, Naomi Smoot, senior policy associate at the nonprofit CJJ, pointed out that some states include catch-all provisions that apply to behaviors that are illegal only for minors, while other states use status offense laws to deal with new and emerging issues uniquely applicable to children such as bullying and sexting.

The findings come amid growing opposition to incarcerating children for such offenses because doing so endangers them, can cause long-term trauma, often leads to further involvement with the justice system and tends to ignore the underlying reasons for the offenses.

“What we’ve seen in the research is that status offender youth who are put in detention run the risk of both physical and sexual assault at the hands of both guards and their fellow youths,” Smoot said in an interview.

“There’s a large number of youths who are put into detention for status offense behaviors in the same living units as children who have engaged in much more serious and much more dangerous behaviors.”

CJJ, along with a wide array of other advocates for juveniles and the Reno, Nev.-based National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ), call for diverting status offenders from the juvenile justice system altogether.

Ironically, the NCJFCJ had lobbied for the 1980 valid court order exception, at a time of clamor for taking action to reduce status offenses, said Melissa Sickmund, director of the Pittsburgh-based National Center for Juvenile Justice (NCJJ), the research division of NCJFCJ.

“They said, ‘We have kids who have not followed rules we set for them. What else do you want us to do?’” Sickmund said. “And so the exception got put into place.”

Now the judges council supports elimination of the exception, she noted.

“If you’re detaining the kid—unless they are really a threat to the community—it may be causing more harm than good, it may be putting them in the presence of other bad actors who are worse than them and they just learn bad stuff,” Sickmund said. “We could be traumatizing them, and it doesn’t help and it’s expensive.”

To understand status offenders, CJJ said in a December report, it’s critical to understand youths’ brain development and adolescent behavior patterns.

Recent research has shown adolescents’ brains are not fully developed until their mid-20s and that youths are more susceptible than adults to peer pressure, more reckless and impulsive, more likely to take risks and less likely to consider long-term consequences. Notably, however, the research also shows juveniles are especially amenable to rehabilitation.

The NCJJ estimates that in 2011, juvenile courts handled 116,200 status offense cases, with 8,800 involving youths being detained at some point between referral to court and case disposition. Youth were adjudicated guilty in 66,400 of those petitioned cases, with 37,200 placed on probation as the most severe consequence.

Some of the youth who were held may not have been detained in violation of the JJDPA, though:

Under the act, status offenders may be held under one of several exceptions to the act’s requirements. Youths, for example, can end up being held briefly before initial court appearances. But advocates argue that even these short stays can traumatize youths and subject them to risk of abuse.

On a hopeful note, the new report pointed out that in the overwhelming majority of states, status offenders are rarely detained.

The federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention reports that Washington state led the nation in use of the valid court order exceptions, with 2,705 cases; followed by Kentucky, 1,048; Arkansas, 747, and Colorado, 356. (Most of the data, for a one-year span, was from around 2010-2012.) At the other end of the spectrum, a dozen states that retain the valid court order exception used it less than 100 times in a one-year period.

Alessandra Meyer, senior program associate at the Center on Youth Justice at the nonprofit Vera Institute of Justice in New York City, said in an email more and more states are looking to alternatives to detention of status offenders.

“Many states have changed their approach to youth who commit status offenses, embracing community and school-based responses that reduce reliance on the juvenile justice system,” Meyer said.

“As shown in CJJ’s survey, however, too many states still allow courts to use the valid court order (VCO) exception to lock up youth for non-delinquent behaviors such as running away from home and skipping school.”

Like others, Meyer pointed to a bipartisan measure introduced in December to reauthorize the JJDPA that would, among other things, phase out the valid court order exception over three years.

A new JJDPA reauthorization bill–expected to be introduced in this session of Congress by Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-IA, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-RI—also would likely phase out the exception.

“We would love to see the valid court order exception become a thing of the past,” CJJ’s Smoot said. “Our position is that children should never be incarcerated for status offense behaviors because these are behaviors that are a sign of a larger underlying behavior in the child’s life.

“Often, there’s something either going on at home or an undiagnosed disability, for example, that causes a child to fall behind in school. There are better community-based responses, and we say as an organization incarceration is never an appropriate response.”

Often, CJJ points out, LGBTQ youths run away from home because they don’t feel welcome there.

The organization also recommends law enforcement connect possible status offenders and their families to necessary services instead of charging or detaining the youths and says education systems should seek to address underlying causes of truancy and try to avoid court involvement or suspension from school.

And CJJ says children should not be allowed to waive counsel in status offense cases unless the waiver is on the record, the court has weighed the child’s understanding and capacity and the waiver occurs in the presence of and with consultation of an attorney.

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Gary Gately is the Washington DC correspondent for the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange.

۞

Groove of the Day

Listen to Phoenix performing “Too Young”

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Weather Report

70° Foggy in the morning, then Cloudy

21
Apr
15

still waiting

Last week, a reader sent me a link to this article, published by the Indianapolis paper on Paul Henry’s 17th birthday. It is mainly a regurgitation of older news and articles, but it does allude to the chance of Paul being set free next year. Yet the fact remains, there is no new news about Paul Henry except that he is still at the Pendleton youth prison and continues to do well there and in school. His dad tells me he is regretful and embarrassed by the role he played in Philip Danner’s death, and avoids any attention in the media.

There is no way to predict with any certainty if he will, in fact, be released on his 18th birthday; this decision is entirely in the hands of a judge. To satisfy readers’ curiosity, all that can be said right now is that Paul Henry is successfully keeping up his end of what the court expects.

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B9316274991Z.1_20150216164700_000_G6C9VRC05.1-0

Paul Henry Gingerich: Another birthday for a boy in prison

by Robert King, The Indianapolis Star

February 17, 2015

Editor’s note: At age 12 Paul Gingerich became what many believed to be the youngest Hoosier ever sentenced to prison as an adult. Today, he turns 17. He’s been behind bars for nearly five years for his involvement in the shooting death of a friend’s stepfather. Because of a plea deal reached more than a year ago following appeals of his sentencing, there’s a chance Gingerich’s next birthday could be his last in prison. This story, which The Star published in 2012, took a look at Gingerich’s case around the time of his 14th birthday.

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Paul Henry Gingerich awoke on the morning of his 14th birthday to the sound of a voice—his prison guard.

“Happy birthday,” she said.

It was 6 o’clock. Paul would just as soon have been given a few more minutes to sleep.

But in a place where he must ask permission to go to the bathroom, where he eats every meal under close surveillance and where birthdays aren’t much different from any other day, it was a nice gesture for one of the state’s most controversial inmates.

Paul Gingerich is thought to be the youngest person in Indiana sentenced to prison as an adult.

He was 12 years old when he arrived here at the Pendleton Juvenile Correctional Facility, the state’s maximum-security prison for children.

He had such a small frame and such a baby face that one of his new teachers—the prison has a school—asked: “What is a 7-year-old doing in our facility?”

Yet Paul was also a killer. He had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder after he and a friend fired four bullets into the friend’s stepfather.

Each boy received 25 years, with the possibility that, for good behavior, they could get out in about half that time. They would still be young men, but young men who had grown up in prison.

In Paul’s case, that means living in a cell with a steel door and bare block walls in a remote corner of Pendleton.

Home consists of a mattress on a concrete slab, a small desk and a chair, and a window spliced with thick bars. Paul’s view is of a small patch of grass, a tall fence and a rolling wave of razor-sharp concertina wire.

Here, in this place, Paul has grown nearly 3 inches to about 5-foot-8, sprouted peach fuzz, popped his first pimples, had his voice change and—now—marked two birthdays.

It is also a place that—should his lawyer pull off an epic reversal—Paul hopes to soon leave.

The trouble begins on a playground.

Three boys—one of them 15, the two others 12—meet in a park in the neighborhood where they live in Cromwell, a small town halfway between South Bend and Fort Wayne.

They play in the park for a while, then begin talking about a subject they’ve been discussing for a couple of weeks now: running away, out west to California. Or, no, maybe to Arizona.

The only problem, according to 15-year-old Colt Lundy, is that his stepfather will never allow it. He’ll stop them from going.

The answer to the problem, Colt says, is simple. They must kill Phil Danner.

Birthdays in prison are typically low-key affairs. There’s one party per month thrown for all the birthday boys, usually featuring cupcakes.

Presents—by regulation, books mailed from booksellers—show up on or around the day. In Paul’s case, his mom had ordered him an inspirational book. His prison mentor gave him a Bible with multiple versions of the Scriptures, even Greek.

Family visits are confined to normal Thursday and Sunday visiting hours. His whole family—mom, dad and two sisters—came and helped him spend $20 worth of quarters in the visiting room vending machines for a birthday party featuring personal pepperoni pizzas, egg and sausage hot pockets and popcorn.

Yet the best present of all came from the Indiana Court of Appeals.

On Feb. 17—Paul’s birthday—the court announced it will consider granting the boy what amounts to a legal do-over on the 2010 proceedings that led to his particular sentence.

The issue before the court isn’t one of guilt, but whether it was appropriate for Kosciusko Circuit Judge Rex Reed to move Paul into adult court at such a young age and to give him an adult’s sentence.

In Indiana, juveniles as young as 10 can be tried as adults. That’s younger than in many states, but some states have no age limit. Last year, Morgan County Prosecutor Steve Sonnega could have moved to adult court the case of an 11-year-old boy who killed his 6-year-old brother. But he decided against it.

Paul was 12 years and 2 months old at the time of the killing. He was a sixth-grader at Wawasee Middle School. He had no prior criminal record. A psychologist who evaluated Paul said the boy lacked a basic understanding of the court proceedings and wasn’t competent to stand trial as an adult.

“Phil Danner is dead,” the judge said at the time. “Phil Danner was, regardless of what we call this crime, murdered.”

The decision was remarkable in light of the fact that, from 2000 to 2010, only 13 children in Indiana were sentenced as adults for murder or attempted murder. None was younger than 14.

Reed didn’t return phone calls for this story. Voicemails left for the prosecutor also were not returned.

The sentence prompted Dan Dailey, a blogger from Texas who follows juvenile justice issues, to launch a website called “Free Paul Henry Gingerich” and to set up a trust fund for his defense. He also asked for help from Indianapolis attorney Monica Foster, who has defended some of the state’s most notorious killers. (See accompanying box.)

Foster agreed—even setting aside her typical fee of $350 an hour to take up Paul’s appeal.

“I would like to have him treated as the 12-year, 2-month-old person that he was, which is a kid,” she said. “I don’t think he was competent to stand trial. I don’t think he was competent to plead guilty.”

Specifically, she said, defense attorneys typically are allowed two to four months to build an argument for why their young client’s case should remain in the juvenile courts. Paul’s lawyers were given four days. Foster also said the psychologist’s report should have carried more weight.

National juvenile justice organizations—the Children’s Law Center, the National Juvenile Defender Center and the Campaign for Youth Justice—have filed briefs in support of her case.

At its core, though, Foster said 12 is too young to write off the life of a child who she said “doesn’t have a criminal orientation.”

“He’s the most innocent kid I’ve ever seen in my entire life,” she said. “He just really happened to be in a bad place at a bad time, and I really believe that’s all this case is about.”

After leaving the playground, the boys walk to Colt Lundy’s house. Colt goes in alone and finds his stepfather there already, in the family room. Colt goes into his bedroom and moves the blinds, signaling for the two 12-year-olds waiting across the street—Paul and Chase Williams—to come over.

The plan is for either Paul or Chase to join Colt inside and help him carry out the deed. Paul and Chase talk as they cross the street about who should go in. At first, Chase says he will, but thinks better of it. Paul will go.

He climbs in through Colt’s bedroom window. Inside, Colt is waiting with two guns: a .40-caliber Glock and a .38-caliber revolver.

The two boys move into the living room. They talk about whether they can go through with it. Paul, he would later say, thinks they won’t go through with it and tells Colt he’s not sure he can. Then Danner appears in the doorway. He sees Colt, sees the gun. Colt fires. Paul points his gun at the man. He shuts his eyes, he says later. He fires, too.

Danner is hit four times. He falls to the floor in the doorway—dead.

In handing down his sentence to Colt and Paul, Reed said he tried to account for the youth of the two accused boys: He could have given them 45 years.

Colt was assigned to the “youthful offender wing” at Wabash Valley Correctional Facility in Carlisle. It’s a prison that’s home to 2,000 male inmates, including some of the people Foster represents in her death penalty cases. His father declined to comment on his son’s case or grant The Indianapolis Star access to him in prison.

“He would essentially have to learn survival skills, what it takes to survive in an adult facility,” said Mike Dempsey, executive director of youth services with the Indiana Department of Correction.

“And he would clearly be victimized relatively quickly.”

So Gingerich was assigned to Pendleton Juvenile—a decision that Paul’s mom said “was just the happiest moment of my life.”

The difference in the two worlds is dramatic. And it’s another reason why Foster is pursing a new trial. Although Paul is at Pendleton now, he could be moved to Wabash anytime prison officials deem it necessary.

At Pendleton, there are juveniles who have committed serious crimes—murder and manslaughter, sex and drug offenses and property crimes. But at Wabash, the concentration of inmates leans more toward violent offenders.

At Pendleton, juveniles can earn a diploma or high school credits that, once they’re released, count at any high school in the state. At Wabash, juveniles can earn only a general educational development certificate.

At Pendleton, the population is 300 juveniles, with no one older than 21. At Wabash, there are about 50 juveniles in a population of 2,000 that includes middle-aged child molesters and people who committed multiple murders. The juveniles and adults are kept almost entirely apart.

Still, DOC’s Dempsey said a boy at Wabash can look out his window and see nearly 2,000 adult criminals walking around. “That’s stressful,” he said. “That’s traumatic.”

At Pendleton, Paul lives in his own room on a wing where new arrivals spend their first two weeks. He attends school five days a week. He spends time daily in a common area where he can watch television and play games. On his birthday, he and some other residents played spades and “Sorry!”

“I’m getting whupped,” he said to the 14-year-old who was beating him in the board game.

Another boy in the unit, who is 16, said he and Paul are the local spades champions.

But his success isn’t limited to playing cards. Paul is making straight A’s. He was recently promoted to ninth grade because eighth-grade classes weren’t challenging enough. He occupies a spot on the student council and uses his good-behavior credits not for video game time but for extra visits with his mother, who twice a week makes the four-hour round trip to see Paul.

“He is one of my best students,” health and physical education teacher Mark Hargett said. “He does what I ask. He is one of the first guys done, and he’s always willing to help. Basically, around here, he’s what I call a model student.”

Paul is applying for a prison job doing cleanup duties. He’s even looking at moving into one of the prison’s specialized programs in Scouting, future soldiering or faith-based instruction, which would make him less isolated.

Paul is doing so well, counselor Michelle Griffith said, that had he been given an open-ended juvenile sentence, as nearly all Pendleton Juvenile residents receive, the Department of Correction probably would decide soon that he’s ready to go home.

Instead, Paul faces an additional decade or more in prison.

Continued good behavior could slice his 25-year sentence in half. But without a successful appeal, the boy who entered prison at 12 would leave at 25, having spent half his life locked up.

Before that happens, Paul would have to move on to Wabash. Pendleton Juvenile doesn’t keep anyone older than 21. He would have to learn those new survival skills after all.

Joel Schumm, a law professor at Indiana University’s Robert H. McKinney School of Law, sees it as throwing away a boy’s life.

“As opposed to putting him at home with family and people who are going to support him and give him a positive environment, you are going to put him in a pack of wolves in prison,” Schumm said. “And I think it is a terrible idea.”

With Danner dead on the floor, Colt opens the front door and invites Chase and another boy, who had shown up later, to come in and check out the body.

Then they make plans to run. Paul heads home, packs some things in a bag and returns to Colt’s house. But then his mom calls him. He has to come home. The other boys agree they’ll pick him up after his mother goes to bed.

Colt grabs his stepfather’s keys, his credit card and his GPS device. With Chase along, he drives his stepfather’s car to Paul’s house. Paul throws his shoes out the window and sneaks out. They set the GPS for “Arizona,” where they have some vague notion about selling T-shirts to drug dealers.

Along the way, they make a couple of stops for food and gas. About 200 miles in, they pull into a Walmart parking lot in Peru, Ill. It’s well after midnight.

A police officer finds it curious that three boys are out alone so late. He asks a few questions and doesn’t buy the answers. Soon, Chase speaks up. There’s a dead man back in Indiana.

The two Pauls—one a well-mannered boy who is a model student, the other a boy who fired two bullets into a man—are hard to reconcile.

Paul is a boy who might have fallen under the influence of an older boy but who now has matured beyond that.

But Paul is also a killer who wears on his wrist a plastic prison bracelet given upon his arrival at Pendleton. It bears the words: “Very High Risk.”

Standing in front of the judge, crying, Paul Henry Gingerich told the court simply: “I did wrong.”

His mother, Nicole, said she and her husband, Paul, were in divorce proceedings at the time of the shooting. But she said her son was no trouble at home, and his only problems at school were talking in class and missing an occasional assignment. She thinks Colt bullied her son into the crime.

“It was completely out of character for my son to be involved with something like this,” she said. “I never imagined that he could ever be involved with it. He’s always been a pretty good boy.”

Paul has said very little about the incident since, in large part because of his appeal. Foster has asked correction officials not to ask him about the specifics of what happened in Colt Lundy’s house on April 20, 2010. And the only condition she placed on The Star, in granting access to Paul in prison, was to not ask him about the shooting itself.

Watching Paul and his fellow inmates shooting hoops in the prison gym recently, Hargett, the P.E. teacher, said the incidents that put such boys in prison often are an anomaly in their young lives.

“One bad day,” Hargett calls it.

And he thinks Paul is past his.

When Paul arrived, prison officials could barely coax him to speak. He refused class assignments that required him to talk in front of his classmates, who usually number no more than 12 to 14.

Griffith, the counselor, said his introversion might have been part of problem before the crime.

In an interview with The Star in July, Paul spoke in short phrases, barely above a whisper.

How’s it going? “Um, I’m doing all right.”

Are you scared? “I was scared when I first got here, but then like a week passed and I started school, and it didn’t seem so bad.”

Have you thought about why you’re here? “No, I don’t like thinking about that.”

There are signs, though, that he does. One classroom assignment last summer asked the student inmates to write a letter of advice to their future children. Paul’s advice: “To choose friends carefully so they don’t fall into bad situations.”

When interviewed days before his birthday, Paul still seemed reticent to talk about himself, and his feelings, allowing only: “Usually, I’m in a fair mood. I don’t have any problems.”

But he seems to be finding his voice. In conversations, his voice is now audible more often than not. He has spoken in front of his class. He asks questions of Foster about his case and the appeal. And if you ask him about what he’s reading, be prepared for an oral book report.

He read the book “Endurance” and can describe in detail the plight of famed South Pole explorer Ernest Shackleton. He’s read the biblical Book of Acts and can discuss how Saul persecuted Christians until he was struck blind by God and found faith, then had to convince people he was a changed man.

Whether he identifies with Saul, he couldn’t say.

As for his future and whether he thinks about his chances of freedom, Paul pauses at length. He seems unable to find the words until he says: “Sometimes.”

As for what he might have done differently two years ago when an afternoon at the playground turned into conspiracy to commit murder, he pauses again. He struggles once more for words. Then speaks.

“Yeah, I think about it sometimes,” Paul said. “I think I should have gone home.”

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Robert King has been a reporter with The Indianapolis Star since 2004, currently writing about about public safety and crime prevention. In 2013, the Society of Professional Journalists named him the Indiana Journalist of the Year. Star researcher Cathy Knapp contributed to this story.

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Gingerich timeline

2010

April 20: Paul Gingerich, then 12, and Colt Lundy, then 15, shoot two bullets each into Lundy’s stepfather, Phil Danner, killing the 49-year-old Cromwell man instantly.

April 22: Prosecutors in Kosciusko County ask, during a detention hearing, that Gingerich be tried as an adult in criminal court.

April 29: Kosciusko County Superior Court Judge Duane Huffer moves Gingerich’s case into (adult) criminal court. The next day Gingerich is charged with murder.

Nov. 3: Gingerich pleads guilty to a lesser charge, conspiracy to commit murder.

2011

Jan. 4: Kosciusko County Circuit Judge Rex Reed sentences Gingerich to 30 years, with 5 of those years suspended to probation.

Jan. 18: Gingerich enters the Pendleton Juvenile Correctional Facility after Department of Corrections after officials conclude he wouldn’t make it in an adult prison.

Jan. 26: Indianapolis attorney Monica Foster becomes Gingerich’s attorney and files a notice of appeal.

Feb. 17: Gingerich turns 13.

2012

Feb. 17: The Indiana Court of Appeals agrees to hear Gingerich’s appeal. The news comes on his 14th birthday.

Oct. 30: The 3-judge Court of Appeals panel hears arguments in the case, and express skepticism of the swift move by the prosecutor and judge in Kosciusko to move Gingerich’s case to the adult criminal court.

Dec. 11: The Court of Appeals issues its decision, saying the court in Kosciusko erred by not giving Gingerich’s attorney enough time to make the case he should have been tried as a juvenile. They reversed the conviction and order the case back to Kosciusko for a do-over.

2013

Jan. 10: Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller announces he will appeal the Court of Appeals ruling.

Feb. 17: Gingerich turns 15.

March 7: The Indiana Supreme Court declines to hear Zoeller’s appeal, forcing the case to start over in Kosciusko.

July 1: A new law, passed by the General Assembly earlier this year, takes effect and offers courts greater flexibility in sentencing juvenile cases.

Dec. 2: Gingerich agrees to a plea deal that allows him to be sentenced under the new law and opens the door that, with good behavior, he could be set free when he turns 18.

1386033704023-46-nwPRISONBOY184128

PS: We have just been informed that Colt Lundy was transferred from the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility (level 3) to the adult facility at Pendleton IN on April 21, 2015. He is designated as “medium security,” which appears to be a relaxation of the conditions under which he is held.

۞

Groove of the Day

Listen to Paul McCartney performing “Hope For The Future”

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Weather Report

78° and Clear

20
Apr
15

“happy” birthday

5130719It seems that almost every year around this date, some malcontent or another blows up something or kills somebody to commemorate the birthday of an infamous man born in 1889.

Most famously, April 20th is the anniversary of the day in 1999 when Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold attacked Columbine High School in Colorado, using an arsenal of guns and homemade bombs. They killed 13 people and injured 21 others before killing themselves—and poisoned the political waters for young people (like Nathan Ybanez) who had the misfortune to have committed their acts around the time of Columbine.

However, in point of fact, the entire third week in April—from the 14th through 20th—is a period which seems to attract a disproportional amount of violence and tragedy.

On April 14th, President Abraham Lincoln was shot in Ford’s Theater in 1865. Assassin John Wilkes Booth famously shouted “Sic semper tyrannis,” his motivation for the attack being a response to the Civil War, which was coming to an imminent end.

Boston-Marathon-BombingOn April 15, 2013, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev placed pressure-cooker bombs near the Boston Marathon finish line, killing three people and injuring nearly 200.

On April 16, 2007, Seung Hui Cho went on a shooting spree at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute, killing 32 people. Cho was reportedly mentally ill, making his motivation inherently irrational to some degree. In a later discovered video, however, Cho referred to Columbine High School shooters Harris and Klebold as “martyrs.”

On April 17, 2008, Basque Nation and Liberty set off a bomb in Bilbao, Spain, injuring 7 police officers outside a ruling Socialist Party locale. A warning call came in only minutes before the 6:00 am explosion.

On April 18, 1983, a suicide bomber drove a car bomb into the US embassy in Beirut, killing 63 people. This was a turning point in how extremist groups directed their violence, seeing the impact asymmetric warfare can have on larger military forces.

Waco-SeigeOn April 19, 1993, the FBI inserted tear gas canisters into the Branch Davidian compound at Waco TX in an attempt to force an end to a 53-day standoff. A fire started that engulfed the compound, killing 76 men, women and children inside. Two years later, in 1995, Timothy McVeigh parked a truck bomb in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City OK. The attack killed 168 people. McVeigh later sent a letter to Fox News calling the bombing retaliation for the government’s actions against the Branch Davidians.

And now we have come to April 20th. What misfortune might the day bring this year?

I’m sorry to be stating the obvious, but a lot of other people besides the Führer were born on this date. Click on the year, and you’ll discover even more people than appear below who were born on this date:

..702 Jafar Sadiq, Muslim scholar (d. 765)
1442 Edward IV, King (England, 1461-83)
1494 John Agricola, [Schneider], German theologist/prime minister
1586 Saint Rose of Lima, Peruvian saint (d. 1617)
1592 John Eliot, St Germans Cornwall, English MP/author
1594 Matthaus Apelles von Lowenstern, composer
1633 Emperor Go-Komyo of Japan (d. 1654)
1646 Charles Plumier, French botanist (d. 1704)
1650 William Bedloe, English informer (d. 1680)
1668 Yuri Troubetzkoy, Governor of Belgorod (d. 1739)
1705 Balthasar Schmid, composer
1718 David Brainerd, American missionary (d. 1747)
1723 Cornelius Harnett, American delegate to the Continental Congress (d. 1781)
1725 Johann Friedrich Kloffler, composer
1726 Jozef de Ferraris, French/Austrian earl/general/cartographer
1745 Philippe Pinel, physician, founder of psychiatry
1748 Georg Michael Telemann, composer
1761 Johann Gottlieb Karl Spazier, composer
1808 Louis-Napoleon (Napoleon III), emperor of France (1852-71)
1809 John Smith Preston, Brigadier General (Confederate Army), (d. 1881)
1818 Heinrich Göbel, German-born inventor (d. 1893)
1824 Alfred Holt Colquitt, Brigadier General (Confederate Army), (d. 1894)
1826 Dina M Craik, writer
1827 John Gibbon, Major General (Union volunteers), (d. 1896)
1839 Carol I, King of Romania (1881-1914)
1850 Daniel Chester, French/American sculptor (Minute Man)
1851 Young Tom Morris, Scottish golfer (d. 1875)
1857 Charles LP “Philip” Zilcken, painter/author (HW Knife Day)
1858 Auguste Chapuis, composer
1860 Charles Gordon Curtis, US attorney/inventor (Curtis Turbine)
1866 Victor Hollaender, composer
1870 Simeon Roncal, composer
1871 William Henry Davies, Wales, poet (Autobiography of a Super Tramp)
1876 Gerard J Arbous, actor/publicist (Prince William of Orange)
1879 Robert Lynd, Irish writer/critic (Pleasures of Ignorance)
1881 Nikolai Miaskovsky, Novogeorievsk Poland, composer (Kirov is With Us)
1882 Holland Smith, US General (d. 1967)
1884 Princess Beatrice of Edinburgh and Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (d. 1966)
1889 Adolf Hitler, Braunau, Austria, Austrian-born Führer of Germany (1933-45)
1890 Maurice Duplessis, premier of Québec, known as “Le Chef” (d. 1959)
1893 Harold Lloyd, Burchard Neb, silent comic (Why Worry, Safety Last)
1894 Martinus Nijhoff, poet/interpreter/linguistic (spelling)
1895 Emile Christian, American musician (d. 1973)
1896 Senor Wences, ventriloquist (Close the Door)
1897 Bernard Verhoeven, poet/literature (About the Laugh)
1900 Fred Raymond, composer
1901 Michel Leiris, French cultural anthropologist
1902 Donald Wolfit, England, actor (Lawrence of Arabia, Becket, Accursed)
1903 Dagmar Edqvist, Swedish author (Kamrathustru-Wife & Comrade)
1904 Bruce Cabot, Carlsbad NM, actor (Diamonds are Forever, King Kong)
1907 Miran Bux, cricketer (his one season of Test & 1st-class play 1954-55)
1908 Lionel Hampton, orchestra leader/vibraphone improviser (Depths Below)
1909 Guido Alberti, literary patron/businessman
1910 Robert F Wagner, (Mayor-D- 1954-65) [or May 15], born in NYC, New York
1911 Kukrit Pramoj, politician
1912 David Townsend, cricketer (3 Tests Eng v WI 1935)
1913 Dick Wessel, WI, actor (Dick Tracy vs Cueball, Beware of Blondie)
1914 Betty Lou Gerson, American actress (d. 1999)
1915 Joseph Wolpe, South African-born psychotherapist (d. 1997)
1919 Richard Hillary, Australian Spitfire pilot and author (d. 1943)
1920 John Paul Stevens, Illinois, 103rd Supreme Court Justice (1975- )
1921 Donald Gunn MacRae, sociologist
1923 Tito Puente, Puerto Rico, bandleader (Dance Mania)
1924 Gerhard Samuel, composer
1925 Ernie Stautner, NFL tackle (Steelers)/WLAF head coach (Galaxy)
1926 Harriett Elizabeth Byrd, politician (Wyoming house of Reps)
1927 Karl Muller, Switzerland, superconductivity physicist (Nobel 1987)
1928 Johnny Gavin, Irish footballer (d. 2007)
1929 Bob Braun, Ludlow Ky, singer (Dotty Mack Show)
1930 Alan Oakman, cricketer (England batsman against Australia 1956)
1931 Lee H Hamilton, Daytona Beach Fla, (Rep-D-Ind, 1965- )
1934 Lindsay Oliver John Boynton, furniture historian
1936 Pat Roberts, Topeka, Kansas, US Senator (Rep-R-KS, 1981-1997)
1938 Johnny Tillotson, Jacksonville Fla, singer (Gidget, Poetry in Motion)
1939 Gro Harlem Brundtland, Norwegian premier (1981-82, 86-89, 90- )
1940 George Takei, actor (Sulu-Star Trek, Green Berets), born in Los Angeles, California
1941 Ryan O’Neal, actor (Love Story, Paper Moon)
1943 Edie Sedgwick, actor (Ciao Manhattan), born in Santa Barbara, California
1945 Jimmy Winston, organist (Samll Facres-Itchycoo Park), born in London, England
1946 Julien Poulin, French Canadian actor
1947 David Leland, Cambridge England, actor/director (Nothing But Trouble)
1948 Craig Frost, keyboardist (Grand Funk Railroad-Some Kind of Wonderful)
1949 Jessica Lange, Cloquet Minnesota, actress (King Kong, Tootsie)
1950 Itumeleng J Mosala, S Afr president (Azanian People’s Org)
1951 Luther Vandross, rock vocalist (Dance with my Father), born in NYC, New York (d. 2005)
1952 Tamara Sergeyevna Zakharova, Russian cosmonaut
1953 Sebastian Faulks, British novelist
1954 Gilles Lupien, French Canadian ice hockey player
1955 Donald R Pettit, Silverton Oregon, PhD/astronaut
1956 Beatrice Ask, Swedish politician
1957 Graeme Fowler, cricketer (England left-handed opener early 80s)
1958 Viacheslav Fetisov, Moscow, NHL defenseman (Team Russia, Detroit)
1959 Clint Howard, Burbank California, actor (Gentle Ben)
1960 Rodney Holman, NFL tight end (Detroit Lions)
1961 Don “Hitman” Mattingly, Evansville IN, American MLB 1st baseman (NY Yankees/MVP 1985)
1963 Brett Edward Garsed, Victoria Australia, heavy metal artist (Nelson)
1964 John Carney, NFL kicker (San Diego Chargers)
1965 Jim Terrell, Cincinnati OH, sprint canoe (Olympics-96)
1966 David Chalmers, Australian philosopher
1967 Townsend Saunders, White Sands NM, freestyle wrestler (Oly-sil-92, 96)
1968 LeShundra Nathan, Birmingham AL, heptathlete
1969 John van Halst, soccer player (FC Twente)
1970 Ben Weir, Rock Island IL, Canadian Tour golfer (1993 Bogey Hills-2nd)
1971 Chris Penn, NFL wide receiver (KC Chiefs, Chicago Bears)
1972 Carmen Electra [Tara Leigh Patrick], Sharonville OH, American model and actress
1973 Itula Mili, tight end (Seattle Seahawks)
1974 Ben[jamin] Lincoln Holbrook, Hartland WI, rower (Olympics-1996)
1976 Joey Lawrence, Philadelphia PA, actor (Gimme a Break, Blossom, Summer Rental)
1977 Lisa Ervin, figure skater (US Nationals-4th-1992)
1978 Mirei Kuroda, Japanese gravure idol
1980 Jasmin Wagner, German singer

…and so forth.

Isn’t it about time we have gotten over our fixation on Hitler and April 20th? I know that Adolf Hitler is someone we’ve been encouraged to hate in the most uncritical ways, but it seems deranged to allow his memory to forever besmirch the date of his birth. There are some people, like British historian David Irving, who have asserted that Hitler is blamed for things the record shows he didn’t even do. That would apparently include dishonoring April 20th by his mere existence.

150325111104-15-oklahoma-city-bombing-restricted-super-169Yet anniversaries—especially those of violent events—do attract extremists. The April 19th raid on the Branch Davidian compound, as well as the start of the Revolutionary War (which also occurred on April 19), were factors in the official story of the timing of McVeigh’s bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building. Years later, the Columbine shooters are said to have had McVeigh in mind when launching their assault on their high school, though not because they shared McVeigh’s motivations.

Rather, they sought to emulate and even surpass the spectacle and attention McVeigh garnered through his attack. And the Columbine shooting was a source of inspiration for Seung Hui Cho’s April 16th attack at Virginia Tech.

Anniversaries can help legitimize and associate an attack with a larger cause, perhaps better than the terrorist’s own words. Violent attacks can also capture greater public interest when they coincide with a significant date. Following the Boston bombing, journalists and commentators zeroed in on April 15th as Patriot’s Day, a primarily Bostonian holiday. The bombing would have dominated public attention without the holiday, but given what has been learned about the Tsarnaev brothers, it seems the date may have had significance in their planning.

Indeed, law enforcement and counterterrorism professionals can likely find more success assessing and securing vulnerable targets than by anticipating the date on which soft targets will be attacked. Yet, it is not simply an academic exercise to determine after the fact what relevance a date holds for a terrorist. It can be valuable intelligence that feeds into the overall effort to prevent terrorist action.

Given the history of large violent incidents, the third week in April merits caution. Terrorism can occur on any day, although evidently, on some days more than others.

۞

Groove of the Day

Listen to Toby Keith performing “The Taliban Song”

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Weather Report

66° Windy and Cloudy

19
Apr
15

k-pop

458423

Last week, NPR ran a couple of stories on a cultural phenomenon known as “K-Pop,” so I thought I’d check it out.

It’s amazing, in a way. There are so many kids involved as dancers and performers, the productions are so slick and glitzy, it creates the impression that half the kids in South Korea must be involved, and that South Korea is so hip it certainly must make their starving Communist neighbors choke with rage.

Now I know this can’t be true. South Korea has got to have its share of ugly people and bag-ladies. You can’t have a capitalist society without some people being at the disadvantaged bottom. And just as Ralph Lauren out-Brooks-Brothers Brooks Brothers, the Korean government is trying to culturally out-US the US. The K-Pop phenomenon depends not only on massive investment by the Seoul government, but on Korean-American transplants to provide the style and swagger that is amply  demonstrated in these videos.

The main problem I have is that most Korean acts are as indistinguishable from one another as are Korean cars. With a few exceptions, it all sounds pretty much the same to me. And aside from being amazed at the production values and perkiness, K-Pop is therefore sooo boring! But that’s just my opinion.

You may possibly think that my Grooves of the Day are boring, too. Your prerogative, your loss. Juxtaposed against the subject matter of the posts, some of the Grooves are downright funny. But that’s a different issue.

Here are a few examples of K-Pop that I sort of like. Maybe you’ll like them, too. Maybe not. No skin off my nose.

And anyway, tomorrow is another day and another post.

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“Gangnam Style” is a Korean neologism mainly associated with upscale fashion and lavish lifestyle associated with trendsetters in Seoul’s Gangnam district, which is considered the most affluent part of the metropolitan area. In colloquial usage, it is comparable to the English slang term “swag.”

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۞

Groove of the Day

Listen to SHINee performing “Sherlock”

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Weather Report

85° and Clear




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