The NRA almost caused another Newtown

When I was going up, our elementary school disaster drill was to quickly get away from windows and cower in hallways, because the Cubans had nuclear weapons supplied by Russia, and we thought they were going to use them on us. As a second grader, I didn’t know that at the time. I figured it out years later.

But second graders today know that when they have an emergency drill, it’s because a psychopath with a gun is in the area, and they don’t want to be victims of another Sandy Hook. Because things like this are happening:

Parents were dropping their children off at Rancho Tehama Elementary School, a tiny building in a rural stretch of Northern California, when they heard the first shot. Almost immediately, two more gunshots cracked through the morning air.

It was just minutes before school was supposed to begin on Tuesday morning. The school secretary made a snap decision: Lock down the school. She and other staff members ushered children from the quad into the school, quickly urging nearly 100 young students inside, along with four teachers, aides and parents, said Rick Fitzpatrick, superintendent of the Corning Union Elementary school District.

Children were still hurrying in when the gunman’s white pickup truck came tearing down the street and crashed into the school’s locked gate. A man later identified as Kevin J. Neal jumped out, wielding a semi-automatic rifle and wearing a vest packing additional ammunition, authorities said. Children were still hurrying into classrooms, Fitzpatrick said, when the head custodian looked around a corner.

Neal raised his rifle, targeting the custodian, but it apparently jammed, Fitzpatrick said. By the time Neal cleared the jam, the last student was inside and the school was locked down.

Within 10 seconds of the lockdown going into place, Neal was standing in the quad where, moments earlier, children had been playing.

Children, school staff and parents huddled inside under desks and in offices. Outside, Neal raised his rifle and began to fire. Police said in the hours leading up to that moment, he had killed his wife and hidden her body before beginning a bloody rampage across this community about 135 miles north of Sacramento.

Neal, who also tried to open doors and get inside, fired at the school for six agonizing minutes, shattering windows and shooting through wooden walls, authorities said. One bullet struck a child, while others were wounded with broken glass. Neal eventually “became frustrated” and gave up, abandoning the school, Phil Johnston, an assistant sheriff in Tehama County, told reporters.

The NRA says everyone should have a gun. Even this guy, Kevin J. Neil:

The NRA has bought and paid for the Republican Congress and has killed more Americans than all the Islamist terrorist groups combined. This psychopath intended to go into a school and blow away as many children as he could. But we’re now trained to go into lockdown mode for a mass shooter because members of the GOP won’t do anything to offend their masters in the NRA.

Advertisements

Domestic violence and mass murder

Samantha Bee pointed this out on Nov. 1:

This gun atrocity happened on Nov. 5:

Authorities in the US state of Texas say the suspect in Sunday’s deadly shooting at a church was dealing with a “domestic situation” at the time of the attack.

The suspect, whose identity authorities confirmed as Devin Patrick Kelley, sent threatening text messages to his mother-in-law, who sometimes attended the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, where the shooting took place.

“We know that he expressed anger towards his mother-in-law, who attends this church,” said Freeman Martin, of the Texas Department of Public Safety, in a press conference on Monday.

“There was a domestic situation going on within this family,” said Martin.

That report was in Al Jazeera. The world is watching us and saying, “What the hell is wrong with you Americans?!”

The NRA adds Christians to its list of murder victims

Because this happened today:

A gunman shot and killed more than two dozen people and injured many others Sunday inside a small community church here in South Texas, and he was found dead several miles away from the scene after fleeing, authorities said.

The mass shooting happened during morning services at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, a small town in the countryside more than 30 miles southeast of San Antonio, and it claimed the lives of people ranging in age from 5 to 72, authorities said.

Witnesses described the shooter as a man in his 20s wearing all black clothing and a tactical vest.

Here’s a story from 2015:

Using numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we found that from 2001 to 2013, 406,496 people died by firearms on U.S. soil. (2013 is the most recent year CDC data for deaths by firearms is available.) This data covered all manners of death, including homicide, accident and suicide.
According to the U.S. State Department, the number of U.S. citizens killed overseas as a result of incidents of terrorism from 2001 to 2013 was 350.
In addition, we compiled all terrorism incidents inside the U.S. and found that between 2001 and 2013, there were 3,030 people killed in domestic acts of terrorism.* This brings the total to 3,380.
Those are numbers from 2013. We are in 2017 and we’ve lost count of the number of Americans killed by guns since then. But let’s be clear on this. The NRA has murdered more than 100 times as many Americans as al-Qaeda and ISIS and MS-13 and every other boogeyman the Republicans have thrown at the pump truppets and their enablers since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.
The NRA is a terrorist organization, and a pretty damn efficient one at that. Because it’s fluffers in the GOP aren’t going to do anything to put an end to its reign of carnage. All they’re going to do is this:
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement that his office stands ready to assist local law enforcement as needed: “The thoughts and prayers of all Texans are with the people of Sutherland Springs as tragic reports come out of First Baptist Church.” 
More thoughts and prayers while the deadly reign of the NRA continues. That’s all Republicans ever offer.

60 years ago in space

Laika, Russian cosmonaut dog, 1957. Laika was the first animal to orbit the Earth, travelling on board the Sputnik 2 spacraft launched on Nov. 3, 1957. The Soviet space program used dogs and other animals to ascertain the viability of later space travel. (Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images)

From the New Yorker;

On the evening of November 3, 1957, barely a month after the Soviet Union sent humanity’s first artificial satellite into orbit, a rocket lifted off from a secret site in Kazakhstan, carrying its second. The launch of Sputnik 2 was timed to coincide with the fortieth anniversary of the October Revolution, and the craft itself was an appropriately showy statement of Communist know-how—six times heavier than Sputnik 1, designed to fly nearly twice as high, and, most impressive of all, containing a live passenger. A week before the mission began, Moscow Radio had broadcast an interview with the cosmonaut in question, described as “a small, shaggy dog.” Western newspapers, however, were initially confused about what to call her. Introduced as Kudryavka (“Little Curly”), she was also known as Limonchik (“Little Lemon”) and Damka (“Little Lady”). A Soviet spokesman eventually clarified that her name was Laika (“Barker”), which did nothing to stop a columnist at Newsday from referring to her exclusively as “Muttnik.”

It kind of went like this:

Well, not really;

But the story of Laika had a dark lie at its core. In 2002, forty-five years after the fact, Russian scientists revealed that she had died, probably in agony, after only a few hours in orbit. In the rush to put another satellite into space, the Soviet engineers had not had time to test Sputnik 2’s cooling system properly; the capsule had overheated. It remained in orbit for five months with Laika inside, then plunged into the atmosphere and burned up over the Caribbean, a space coffin turned shooting star. Turkina quotes one of the scientists assigned to Laika’s program: “The more time passes, the more I’m sorry about it. We shouldn’t have done it. We did not learn enough from the mission to justify the death of the dog.”

And this final word from Laika’s trainer:

Laika’s trainer, Adilya Kotovskaya, a Russian biologist, recently told Agence France-Presse of her remorse as she prepared to send Laika into space: “I asked her to forgive us and I even cried as I stroked her for the last time.”

No more ‘thoughts and prayers.’ Just do something … anything!

Now is the time.

Jimmy Kimmel has really become the voice for the downtrodden. Other comics have wrapped their criticisms in nice little funny packages, but Kimmel has just come out and said, “This is wrong,” on health care and on gun violence. I’m sure he didn’t want to be the voice of reason, but since no one else is just saying “These guys are scumbags” without having a punchline, I have to give Kimmel his props.

Tom Petty, that music dude up in Gainesville, dies at 66

I moved to Central Florida in 1976, and this guy up in Gainesville, about 45 minutes north, just released a record that the local DJs were playing constantly, and I thought, “Maybe I should drive up there and see him perform.”

But I didn’t.

Over the years, he kept releasing hit records that continually played on the radio and that I bought. I’d move around the country, and he’d tour the cities I was living in, and I thought, “Maybe I should go there and see him perform.”

But I didn’t.

He announced last year that he was doing a final tour. It was going to come through the city I live in, and I thought, “Maybe I should go and see him perform.”

But I didn’t.

This is the song I heard in 1976:

And this is the guy (From Rolling Stone):

Tom Petty, the dynamic and iconoclastic frontman who led the band the Heartbreakers, died Monday. He was 66. Petty’s death was confirmed by Tony Dimitriades, longtime manager of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, on behalf of the family.

“On behalf of the Tom Petty family, we are devastated to announce the untimely death of of our father, husband, brother, leader and friend Tom Petty. He suffered cardiac arrest at his home in Malibu in the early hours of this morning and was taken to UCLA Medical Center but could not be revived. He died peacefully at 8:40 p.m. PT surrounded by family, his bandmates and friends,” Dimitriades wrote.

On Sunday, Petty was found unconscious, not breathing and in full cardiac arrest at his Malibu home, according to TMZ, where he was rushed to the hospital and placed on life support. EMTs were able to find a pulse when they found him, but TMZ reported that the hospital found no brain activity when he arrived. A decision was made to pull life support.

“It’s shocking, crushing news,” Petty’s friend and Traveling Wilburys bandmate Bob Dylan tells Rolling Stone in a statement. “I thought the world of Tom. He was a great performer, full of the light, a friend, and I’ll never forget him.”

If there’s a performer you want to see, do it now.

Walter Becker died. You probably don’t know him, but you know Steely Dan.

There are a ton of musicians who’ve played with Steely Dan (Michael McDonald, Skunk Baxter), but the two who made it Steely Dan were Donald Fagen and Walter Becker. Becker played guitar, sometimes sang, but not often, and wrote the songs and produced the albums with Fagen.

I don’t mean this to sound like an insult, but Steely Dan was the original smooth jazz band. Its sound was distinctive, in that hipster cool, Southern Califonia via New Jersey and Queens vibe. I spent many hours mellowing out to “Aja,” “Can’t Buy a Thrill,” “Pretzel Logic,” “Countdown to Ecstasy,” “Katy Lied” and “Gaucho” back in the ’70s and ’80s. I’ve heard the albums from the 2000s were good, but I’m content with the classics.

Here’s a live performance in Charlotte:

Becker’s the older, bearded guy in glasses on guitar. Fagen had some nice things to say about him:

Walter Becker was my friend, my writing partner and my bandmate since we met as students at Bard College in 1967. We started writing nutty little tunes on an upright piano in a small sitting room in the lobby of Ward Manor, a mouldering old mansion on the Hudson River that the college used as a dorm.

We liked a lot of the same things: jazz (from the twenties through the mid-sixties), W.C. Fields, the Marx Brothers, science fiction, Nabokov, Kurt Vonnegut, Thomas Berger, and Robert Altman films come to mind. Also soul music and Chicago blues.

Walter had a very rough childhood – I’ll spare you the details. Luckily, he was smart as a whip, an excellent guitarist and a great songwriter. He was cynical about human nature, including his own, and hysterically funny. Like a lot of kids from fractured families, he had the knack of creative mimicry, reading people’s hidden psychology and transforming what he saw into bubbly, incisive art. He used to write letters (never meant to be sent) in my wife Libby’s singular voice that made the three of us collapse with laughter.

His habits got the best of him by the end of the seventies, and we lost touch for a while. In the eighties, when I was putting together the NY Rock and Soul Review with Libby, we hooked up again, revived the Steely Dan concept and developed another terrific band.

I intend to keep the music we created together alive as long as I can with the Steely Dan band.

But the thing about Steely Dan is the sound. And the Nerdwriter explains what that’s all about:

Walter Becker died yesterday at age 67.