Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Zika Virus Claims Don't Pan Out: What Is Really Going On?

Is all of the Zika Virus hysteria just a marketing campaign to sell millions of new vaccines? It is looking more like a false alarm as every week goes by.

As weeks pass,  excess microcephaly cases have not appeared in other countries with Zika Virus outbreaks. If the hypothesis were correct, Columbia should be seeing hundreds of cases by now - but so far they are still within the usual range, according to PAHO WHO's latest update on July 7th.

In Brazil itself, the original thousands of cases turn out not to be associated with Zika after all.
So far, only 255 cases have been confirmed with laboratory data. An additional 1401 cases are cited as associated (but without any lab testing to confirm). A whopping 7,000 microcephaly cases in Brazil are confirmed to be due to other causes - in many cases unknown.

There is no commercial test for Zika, and Zika looks like its close relative Dengue in blood antibody tests, Only a few government labs can review blood samples, so "getting results takes weeks".

To put this in perspective, approximately 25,000 babies in the United States will be diagnosed with microcephaly every year. Some of these babies will grow and develop normally (nearly 90% of those with mild microcephaly will not have any deficits), and some babies born with normal sized heads will become microcephalic after injury or illness. Genetics also play a strong role. And much of the time, the cause remains unknown. Even the criteria for measuring microcephaly varies.

Yet the media campaign trundles on, and even has a new "ZikaCommunicationNetwork" website with "curated resources" for professional health workers that admits the unknowns:
"... to help health and development professionals minimize the spread of Zika and related negative pregnancy outcomes using four key strategies:
*Social behavior change communication (SBCC)
*Vector control
*Delivery of maternal and child health and family planning services
*Research and development
There are many unknowns about the effects of Zika on pregnancy outcomes. We do not know, if a pregnant woman is exposed to Zika, how likely she is to actually contract the virus. We do not know, if a pregnant woman is infected with Zika, how likely she is to pass it on to her fetus. And we do not know, if her fetus is infected, whether, or at what point in the pregnancy, the infection will result in birth defects."   
But here is the marketing part that gets used to fool the public:
"One thing we do know is that a couple of weeks ago, a baby girl was born in the U.S. with Zika and severe microcephaly..."
So there is the narrative, in which the South American mother deliberately traveled to the US after learning her baby was microcephalic and Zika-positive, is used as a trigger to blot out the lack of scientific evidence, to make us imagine this is a danger everywhere, and to persuade us that all cases of Zika result in severe brain defects.   Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood has jumped at the chance to pressure Brazil and other Catholic countries to legalize child sacrifice, and is once again pushing their money-making agenda: the UNFPA asking for $10 Million from the US and other governments.

In the past few weeks, I've noticed that the word "microcephaly" is no longer being highlighted, there is a sort of pretense that Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) was the "real" problem all along, and babies born to women who had Zika Virus are said to have something undefined called "Congenital syndrome associated with Zika virus infection". Those are serious conditions, and it is important to be vigilant, but are these just more guesswork, without scientific underpinnings?  Only time will tell.

The troublesome things are not only that something is causing an increase in microcephaly - but  that Brazil's rate of microcephaly was already high.  Investigation of the true cause is being ignored.  Or is it? 

No big conspiracy, but epidemiological reality, according to medical investigators: nearly always, the cause of outbreak clusters is never discovered. Over time, myths and educated guesses fill in the vacuum as a substitute for real knowledge. That is the assessment of experts studying an ongoing epidemic of a similar, fatal birth defect called "anencephaly" in the Yakima Valley, Washington State:

"...investigating a birth-defects cluster is difficult, and often futile. It’s challenging to collect the data and even tougher to prove a cause, said Sever, the retired CDC birth-defects expert who lives in Seattle. “The problem with birth defects is that, with very few exceptions, there are no smoking guns,” said Sever."

In Brazil, some researchers say the incidence of microcephaly started climbing long before Zika made its appearance:

"Since 2012, Mattos’s team found, a strikingly large number of babies—4 percent to 8 percent—appeared to have microcephaly, according to the broadest definitions of the term. Additionally, the number of babies affected peaked in 2014, before Zika had been detected in Brazil.

"Another study of roughly 1,000 babies born in eight states in Brazil from July to December 2007 found the prevalence of microcephaly to be 2.8 percent.

There's also disagreement about what criteria to use in diagnosis, which can lead to disparate reporting. A 2009 study of the accuracy of reporting birth defects in Brazil found that microcephaly was under-reported by 75%. 

In addition to genetic conditions, malnutrition, use of alcohol or drugs during pregnancy, there are viruses that have long been known to contribute to microcephaly in babies. These include rubella - which both the USA and Brazil vaccinate against - and two other infections that have high rates in both the US and Brazil: Congenital toxoplasmosis, and Congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV).

The CDC has this to say about CMV:

"In the United States, nearly one in three children are already infected with CMV by age 5 years. Over half of adults by age 40 have been infected with CMV. Once CMV is in a person's body, it stays there for life and can reactivate. Most people infected with CMV show no signs or symptoms. However, CMV infection can cause serious health problems for people with weakened immune systems, as well as babies infected with the virus before they are born (congenital CMV).

"A 2009 study in Brazil found that fully 26.4% of all infants with congenital CMV were also microcephalic (22 out of 87). In this study, 1.8% of all babies were infected with CMV through their mothers.(confirmed in 87 out of 8047 infants).   55.2% of all mothers who had CMV also had other chronic conditions "

What is the CDC's recommendation to protect American mothers from CMV while pregnant? Is it for Congress to allocate a billion dollars for research? Is it to bring the mothers to the best research hospitals?  Nope. It is that "Regular hand washing, particularly after changing diapers, is a commonly recommended step to decrease the spread of infections, and may reduce exposures to CMV. "

The NIH goes further:  "Avoid kissing children under the age of 6 on the mouth or cheek.
Do not share food, drinks, or eating utensils with young children.  Pregnant women working in a day care center should work with children older than age 2½."

Here's the NIH's info on just how dangerous CMV is:

"Congenital CMV infection is the most common intrauterine infection in the United States with direct annual costs of over one billion dollars. The live birth prevalence of congenital CMV infection in the developed world is 0.6–0.7% . Of those infected, 10% are symptomatic as neonates  with the majority surviving the initial infection; however, greater than 90% develop long-term neurological [problems] including:
    .....hearing loss (unilateral and bilateral), mental retardation, cerebral palsy, and impaired vision..... Of the remaining 90% of congenital CMV infections, approximately 10–15% will later develop long-term neurological [problems]. 

Congenital CMV infection leads to an estimated 8000 cases of permanent neurologic disability annually. There are more cases of permanent disability due to congenital CMV than other, better 
known, congenital conditions such as Downs syndrome, fetal alcohol syndrome and spina bifida."

So where's the big push to develop a vaccine for CMV?

Then there's Toxoplasmosis, a leading cause of microcephaly, hydrocephalus, vision loss, and other birth defects.  For 40+ years, on our first pre-natal visit, the doctor has said "don't empty the cat's litter box while pregnant. Get someone else to do that until the baby is born."  And that was that. No tests for it, no cautions, no offers of treatment. But as it turns out, Toxoplasmosis is very dangerous indeed.  An article at the NIH reports that the parasitic disease is the second leading cause of death from contaminated foods (the 4th leading cause of hospitalizations from same) in the USA.  They estimate that a million Americans are infected each year.

Studies show that the prevalence and virulence of the disease in Brazil is much worse.  One study found that as many as 14 babies out of every thousand are born with congenital toxoplasmosis, due to a 50% to 80% prevalence of infection among pregnant women.  In Guatemala, 11 babies of every thousand are affected, and in Mexico, as many as 3.4 per 100!

The NIH reports that a human vaccine has not been pursued. But promising attempts even to vaccinate *cats* have been discontinued due to lack of interest.

Those are only two out of a dozen preventable conditions that have long been known to cause much higher rates of microcephaly, vision and hearing loss, and other disabling birth defects currently being attributed to Zika Virus without any evidence. But no marketing campaign for them?

We know that it takes years or decades to ascertain the effects of emerging diseases. We know that the causes of sudden clusters are rarely ever discovered - unless the cause is a medicine or other controlled, artificial introduction to the environment.  So why the pretenses and misleading claims about Zika?

A few tidbits that may shed light:

Time Magazine has reported that for-profit companies are already at work "tweaking a vaccine that was originally developed for West Nile virus and they expect to launch a safety trial for it in September."   That was fast!

In blood tests, Zika Virus looks almost identical to Dengue Fever, and is transmitted by the same mosquito. The viruses are closely related. Coincidentally, several new Dengue vaccines are either already in large-scale trials or nearing the point. The Philippines plan to vaccinate 1 million children this year. Brazil is one of the countries introducing the vaccine this year as well. All of the UN/World Bank/WHO/Planned Parenthood groups have mobilized their fundraising arms to draw in financing for these new vaccine programs.


Sunday, July 10, 2016

God Blessed Texas With Governor Abbott


What an amazing leader our governor is. His determination to place Texans and other people above himself is so powerful an example of selfless service. May God bless and heal him.

Governor Abbott  issued multiple press releases, an Open Letter to Texans, and held a press conference in Dallas on Friday - all without ever making public that he himself had been badly burned on Thursday, with severe injury to both legs and his feet. He learned about the shootings in Dallas before he left the hospital where he was being treated, so he kept the news of his own injuries quiet.

Governor Abbott returned to Texas and held a press conference in Dallas on Friday without letting anyone know about his condition.

Via Drudge:  AP's Will Weissert on ABC13:

"Spokesman Matt Hirsch said Abbott was with his family in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, on Thursday when he was scalded in an accident involving hot water. He declined to provide further details.
"The governor was treated for several hours at nearby St. John's Medical Center. As he was being released, a top aide called from Texas to say a gunman had opened fire in downtown Dallas - an attack that killed five police officers and wounded seven others.
"His first words to us were, 'I've got to come back,'" Hirsch said.
"Abbott held a press conference in Dallas on Friday, but didn't disclose being burned. Hirsch said that his legs were wrapped at the time, but that wasn't evident since they were covered by his pants.
"The only hint anything was wrong, Hirsch said, was that the governor was wearing orthopedic shoes that his staff purchased that morning - rather than the dress shoes or boots he usually dons in public. "

The governor's accident was not reported until Sunday. In the interim, Governor Abbott focused on the tragic killings in Dallas, releasing the following "Open Letter To Texans" on Friday, following earlier statements and updates:

A Time To Come Together

By Governor Greg Abbott


"Our hearts are heavy.

Last night in Dallas, five law enforcement officers were killed; seven officers and two civilians were wounded.

The coordinated ambush and deliberate, brutal executions were acts of cowardice – hiding behind innocents to target and savagely slaughter peace officers dedicated to preserving life and our freedoms.

The full force of the law must ensure all responsible are brought to justice and our communities are kept secure.

Justice will be served, but justice is small solace for the families left behind.

We mourn for the families of the fallen, for the law enforcement community and for our nation.

Respect for our law enforcement officers must be restored in our nation.

The badge every officer wears over his or her heart is a reminder of a sacred trust, a commitment, a contract with each of us.

For law enforcement officers to stand in front of us and all that threatens, we must stand behind them.

Every life matters.

With each innocent life lost, we lose more of our humanity.

It is time for us to unite as Texans, as Americans, to say no more.

No more will we tolerate disrespect for those who serve.

No more will we allow the evil of hate merchants to tear us apart.

Though anguish and sorrow may darken the days ahead, we will not be overcome by evil – we will overcome evil with good.

Texas is an exceptional state with exceptional people. We’ve faced tough challenges in the past, but we have come together to overcome those challenges.

In the coming days, there will be those who foment distrust and fan the flames of dissension.

To come together – that would be the greatest rebuke to those who seek to tear us apart.

There is far more that binds us together. We see that great strength in times of tragedy, in times of great need. Whether fire or flood or the acts of depraved individuals, Texans are the first to open their hearts, their homes, their wallets to offer charity and love.

I ask for your prayers – for our law enforcement officers, for the city of Dallas, for our state and for our nation.

May God comfort those who’ve lost a family member.

And may God heal the hurt in our communities.

I have faith in the goodness of Texas, of America. For in the end, evil always fails."

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Clarifying Data Reports: Police Deaths Have Fallen As Citizen Gun Ownership Increased

In 2012, welder Vic Stacy used his weapon to save the life of police Sgt Steven Means, by shooting a murderer who had Means pinned down in his sights.  Governor Perry gave him an AR-15 as a token of appreciation.

Guns in the hands - or openly on the backs - of private citizens are not a danger to the police, but an asset.  The same people who are dangerous to cops are also dangerous to other citizens.  The Dallas Shootings were horrific, as terrible as Orlando, San Bernadino, the Luby's Cafeteria Massacre, and the Ft Hood Terror Attack.

All of these attacks showed the terrible carnage that can occur when Americans of all walks of life are not armed to defend themselves.  It is dangerous to be an American these days - but it is more dangerous not to be. And it is especially dangerous for unarmed or disarmed people.

The truth is that increasing prevalence of armed citizens - even minors - are an important arm of law enforcement in the United States, preventing tens of thousands of crimes every year, and protecting others from being victimized by criminals.  And in the mass shootings that have become more frequent, FBI data shows that the random armed citizen may be the most effective response to prevent deaths and stop the killer.

We need our police to perform their work of keeping the peace. And we respect and admire LEOs for their dedication. But it is essential that our police not feel the need to make us less safe in a misguided urge for their own safety, or in misunderstanding the risks they face or where those risks come from.

 In fact, firearms deaths of police have fallen every decade for the past forty years, right along with the drop in all gun deaths that sharply mirrors the climb in citizen gun ownership.



It is a lot less dangerous to be a police officer now than it was in 1973, when firearms-related fatalities peaked - 156 officers were killed that year.  Only 42 officers were killed by gun in 2015 - and three of those were accidents.   According to NLEOMF:
 " Firearms-related fatalities peaked in 1973, when 156 officers were shot and killed. Since then, the average number of officers killed has decreased from 127 per year in the 1970s to 57 per year in the 2000s.
"The 42 firearms-related fatalities in 2015 are 26 percent lower than the average of 57 per year for the decade spanning 2000-2009."
Today. it is twice as dangerous to be a roofer or to collect garbage for a living as it is to be a police officer.

When reading reports of  Law Enforcement deaths, such as this one from USA Today, "Officer Deaths In Dallas Add To A Growing Tally",  keep in mind that this does not mean they were all violent deaths.  Of the  53 police officer deaths so far in 2016 reported, 19 were from accident, illness, or natural causes such as heart attacks. One was an accidental shooting.  One was a plane crash.

"In The Line Of Duty", for purposes of factual reporting on memorial websites such as the Officer Down Memorial Page and the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, does not even mean the death happened on duty. It means simply that the person who died was employed as a law enforcement officer.

124 law enforcement officers died in the line of duty in 2015. 73 of those were not caused by crime, but were accident or illness. This is out of 929,000 full or part-time law enforcement officers in the US.

Here are the actual numbers from the 2015 Fatality Report, as reported by the NLEOMF:
"Traffic-related incidents were the leading cause of officer deaths in 2015, killing 52.  ...
"Firearms-related incidents decreased in 2015. These fatalities accounted for 42 deaths, dropping 14 percent from 2014 when 49 officers were shot and killed. [
NOTE: three of these 2015 deaths were listed as "inadvertently shot and killed", which I assume means they were accidents.]
"Thirty officers died from other causes in 2015...[Of these thirty,] "Twenty-four officers died from job-related illnesses this year, mostly heart attacks—compared to 18 in 2014. Also included among those 24 are four officers who died of illnesses they contracted as a result of their rescue and recovery work following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. "
"Fifty-two officers were killed in felonious incidents, a 16 percent decrease from 61 in 2014, and 73 officers died as a result of non-felonious incidents, increasing 20 percent over 58 in 2014."
"Felonious and Non-Felonious Fatalities :
Fifty-two officers were killed feloniously in 2015, a 15 percent decrease from 2014 when 61 officers died as a result of a criminal act. Of the 52 officers feloniously killed this year, 39 were shot and killed; 11 officers were killed in traffic-related incidents and two officers were killed in incidents unrelated to traffic or firearms. Of the 11 officers feloniously killed in traffic-related incidents, seven were struck, and four were killed in automobile crashes. One officer died as a result of a physical altercation with a suspect,  and one officer was beaten to death.
"Seventy-two officers died in non-felonious incidents in 2015, a 24 percent increase from 58 in 2014. Automobile crashes were the leading cause of non-felonious deaths in 2015 with  31 fatalities, followed by job-related illnesses, which accounted for 23 officer deaths. Six officers died in motorcycle crashes and four officers were struck and killed by a vehicle. Three officers were inadvertently shot and killed, two fell to their death, one was electrocuted, one was killed in an aircraft crash, and one drowned.

We don't know for certain how many citizens die in the presence or custody of law enforcement each year.  The FBI reported on "Justifiable Homicides" by both police and citizens through 2008, but these numbers do not include all shootings by police, and only include  numbers reported to them voluntarily. Despite laws passed by Congress, and Executive Orders from the President, the FBI does not collect or report reliable data.   The Guardian newspaper has begun tracking shootings by US law enforcement. This is reported in Wikipedia as 1140 persons killed by police in 2015, of which 224 of those shot were unarmed. 

It takes a lot to be a good police officer. Willing assumption of risk is only part of it. It requires self control, maturity, confidence in self and team, and most of all, dedication to the equal application of the rule of law,and to the ideals of the job.

What it does not require is "closed ranks"or an exaggerated sense of separation from the public to which all members of law enforcement belong.  We're all in this together.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Northern and West Coast Entrenched Racism: Is This Why They Still Scapegoat The Integrated South?

"The Civil Rights Project says persistent segregation is worst in northern and western states, and that the 17 states with a history of explicit segregation laws have not led the list since 1970."

The racial issues of today,especially those faced by Black Americans, do not reach back to slavery so much as they emerged in the last century during apartheid in the Northern, Midwestern, and West Coast states:  California, New York, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio...

Southerners like me (I'm nearly sixty), who have lived our entire lives with fully-integrated towns, schools, churches, social events and workplaces, have long wondered why the media gets it so wrong.

I always assumed the rest of the country was as diverse in daily life as my small Oklahoma hometown. After all, Brown vs Board of Education desegregated schools in Yankee Kansas before I was even born. We had playmates of many colors and nationalities, and friends when we got older. Teachers, community leaders, business owners, Preachers, neighbors, coworkers of assorted colors and faiths were integral to my youth and my adulthood. People were people were people.

It was the same for my own children, growing up in West Texas.

Then I went to work for a California company, one that preached diversity, and was bewildered to find that Hispanic surnamed folks tended not to be of Mexican heritage (instead they were Cuban, Puerto Rican, South American, Filipino). Oh, there were Mexican people in the area, but the closest they came to working for this company was cleaning the offices and manicuring the grounds.   Black employees were so rare that I met only one Black employee in the entire decade I worked for the company.

Then I met a woman, younger than me, who grew up in Chicago. She casually said one day that she had been an adult before she ever saw a Black person. What?  How could that be?

Chicago, and surrounding cities, and most cities in the North, Midwest, and West Coast, enforced deep segregation so thoroughly and for so long that vast areas of many miles prohibited people of color (which at that time included Asians and Jewish people) from buying homes, renting rooms,... even from spending the night.

By controlling where people lived, White Northerners were able to keep their schools segregated along with their neighborhoods.

This was the case throughout the United States - everywhere but the South.

And the courts allowed them to get away with this until the 80s. Why?

Although some strides have been made, and most formerly White-Only neighborhoods and schools in Yankee-land have been integrated, there are still Black children who grow up without having White neighbors or playmates.Their neighborhoods have still not been desegregated.

Even now, the media and the activists and the courts - including SCOTUS - still put on their blinders to the truth, ignoring the de facto segregation in their own neighborhoods and workplaces.

The Economic Policy Institute  says that  "Avoidance of our racial history is pervasive" and points out:
 "The notion of de facto segregation is a myth, although widely accepted in a national consensus that wants to avoid confronting our racial history. "
The author goes on to show that, despite the North's continual and recent apartheid, the South continues to be made the symptom bearer in most recent textbooks:
" Elementary and secondary school curricula typically ignore, or worse, mis-state this story. For example, in over 1,200 pages of McDougal Littell’s widely used high school textbook, The Americans, a single paragraph is devoted to 20th century “Discrimination in the North.” It devotes one passive-voice sentence to residential segregation, stating that “African Americans found themselves forced into segregated neighborhoods,” with no further explanation of how public policy was responsible. " ;  and  
"History Alive!, a popular textbook published by the Teachers Curriculum Institute, teaches that segregation was only a Southern problem: “Even New Deal agencies practiced racial segregation, especially in the South,”   "
Articles like this one in Voice of America News recites from memory the incomplete history of desegregation, repeating "largely across the southern United States." and  "some 17 states ...almost all in the South".

But  segregation states were not all in the South, and Brown itself was a Kansas case - Kansas is not in the South.  Neither are Delaware, Maryland, the District of Columbia (! yes, Washington DC itself!), Arizona, New Mexico, or Wyoming.

To explain his headline, "Segregation in US Schools Persists 62 Years After Court Ruling",  the author should be looking at New York, Illinois, and California, but he turns away, even though he quotes directly from the Civil Rights Project at UCLA:
"The Civil Rights Project says persistent segregation is worst in northern and western states, and that the 17 states with a history of explicit segregation laws have not led the list since 1970."
"The ironic historic reality is that the decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court supported very demanding desegregation standards for the South while the interpretation of Supreme Court decisions and federal legislation limited the impact of Brown in the North and West." 
The author perpetuates the stereotype, never naming the states from which his headline derives, Instead, he wraps up the article with a report on final judgment in a Mississippi case that started in 1965 - one of only two "Southern" states on the "Top Ten" list, both of which are at the bottom.

Here's the full list, along with an enlightening set of excerpts from the report (a PDF).

Top 10 most segregated states. In all of these states, less than 20% of the total student enrollment are Black.   Percentage of Black students who attend 90%-100% non-White schools:
New York     65.8 
Illinois          59.6 
Maryland     53.7
New Jersey   49.2 
Michigan      48.7 
California    47.9
Wisconsin    45.3
Pennsylvania 45.3 
Mississippi  45.2
Tennessee    44.3

"In Texas, as across the Southwest, African American students now typically attend schools with far more Latinos than black students. New York has only half as high a proportion of Latino students, 24%, but severe residential segregation of both Latinos and African Americans may explain why New York’s Latino students are so segregated. 
"California’s Latino students have less contact with white students than either Latinos or African Americans in any state. Other studies by our Project show that the epicenter of this segregation is in the greater Los Angeles area. "
"Over a 20-year period, the proportion of poor students (as defined by federal standards for subsidized or free lunch eligibility) in the school of the typical white student has shot up from 17% to 40%, which is actually higher than the school poverty level was, on average, for black students at the beginning of the same period."  

How did this happen? Some of it is explained in a list of the Top Ten most segregated urban areas, from Salon. In several, the notes show how resistant locals are to admit the truth - either current or historical:
"#3 In Chicago, white counter-protesters attacked open housing marchers, hitting Martin Luther King in the head with a brick. He later said that he had “never seen as much hatred and hostility on the part of so many people.”
Richard J. Daley reinforced segregation by using “the Interstate Highways Act of 1956 to route expressways through impoverished African-American neighborhoods,” including the “14-lane Dan Ryan Expressway, which created a barrier between black and white neighborhoods.”
"Chicago’s suburbs were also resistant to integration. In Cicero, a suburb just west of the city, thousands of whites attacked a black family moving into the apartment complex in 1951. One activist noted that while whites burned black churches in Mississippi, they burned down black homes in Chicago."
"#2 New York remains the second most segregated metro area in the country.
 "In 2009, the Obama administration signed a landmark consent decree with Westchester County, which is nearly 80 percent white. A lawsuit filed by the Anti-Discrimination Center had charged the county with misrepresenting its affordable housing efforts to the federal government. The suit received widespread media attention and was seen as a blow to racially and economically exclusive municipalities nationwide. But Gurian says the decree hasn’t been enforced.
“The problem is not just a Westchester problem: Over 1,000 jurisdictions across the country are looking to see whether the federal government will … hold Westchester’s feet to the fire,” he wrote. “It is especially critical that there be enforcement because the Westchester County executive, Rob Astorino, has publicly defied lawful federal authority.” 
"#4 Detroit ... In 1972, every majority white ward in the city supported George Wallace in the Democratic presidential primary. The Alabama governor — who once declared “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever” — had a message that resonated.
"One developer even erected a 6-foot-high cement wall between white and black neighborhoods to make the former actuarially sound.
“In many neighborhoods, whites used violence and intimidation to deter black newcomers. ...Whites also formed hundreds of ‘neighborhood improvement associations’ that pledged to keep ‘undesirables’ — namely blacks — out. Real estate brokers and mortgage lenders — backed by federal housing policy — also played a critical role in creating an un-free housing market for African-Americans.”
"#9 Philadelphia.....just 347 of the 120,000 homes constructed in the Philadelphia area between 1946 and 1953 were open to blacks. In the postwar years, working-class whites violently policed the boundaries of their neighborhoods, while the middle and upper classes fled to the suburbs well into the 1990s. Today, Puerto Rican neighborhoods divide working-class white and black neighborhoods in North Philadelphia and Kensington. "
"Discussions about race in Philly are usually met with a deafening backlash from local whites, and the comments sections of the website of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News are locally infamous for their bigotry. "
"#1 Milwaukee. “Most of our history is very similar to Chicago, Cleveland or even Baltimore,” says Marc Levine, professor of history and economic development at the University of Wisconsin, “Every place has had the zoning ordinances, then restrictive covenants, the practices of realtors. The standard history. What makes Milwaukee a little bit different than these other places, which explains why we’re consistently in the top five and often No. 1, in segregation? We have the lowest rate of African-American suburbanization of any of these larger cities.” [ie, the suburbs are heavily segregated]
"Milwaukee sticks out in another way: Civic boosters have mounted a major campaign to deny the city’s segregation. In 2002, a group of job training researchers at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, released a study contending that nationally recognized measures of segregation are “racially biased” and, using a new measure, argued that Milwaukee was actually the tenth most integrated of the largest 50 cities.
"#10 Los Angeles is spectacularly diverse, and profoundly segregated. Though black and Latino Angelenos are increasingly likely to live near one another, their separation from white neighborhoods persists. ...The L.A. riots of 1992, like the 1965 Watts riot, were sparked by police brutality, a steady concern in besieged neighborhoods like South Central. Nearly 20 years later, the jobless ghettos of black and Latino Los Angeles remain. "
Urban liberals who live in gated enclaves in the most segregated racist cities in the country continue to scapegoat the South, none, not one, will recognize that their finger pointing looks everywhere but within their own Yankee culture for that "privilege" they want to pin on someone, anyone, else.

One feels guilt when one is dishonest.

I have neither privilege nor guilt - but then, I've never been part of that exclusionary culture.


Monday, July 4, 2016

The First Amendment and Hand Cranked Printing Presses



On this Independence Day, a little history lesson. "The Press" did not mean "journalists" when our nation was founded. It did not mean television, radio, or the internet. It did not mean respectable owners of newspapers or members of the White House Press Corps or people with Journalism Degrees or writers who make their living as full time reporters or only respectable bloggers or official licensed anything.

It meant "The Printing Press" of the type seen above, which is what Benjamin Franklin, Printer, used to print newspapers, broadsides, editorials, and -  to make a living - various advertising and other works for hire.  It meant anyone who owned a press or who could pay for something to be printed.

Franklin had a LOT to say about "freedom of the Press" and the right to freely publish things that offended some people.  

Most of the concepts we still apply to "Freedom of the Press" came from Franklin's own experience. His older brother James was a Printer, and was jailed for a month for printing some political outrage and then refusing to divulge the name of his source. Franklin, his apprentice, was 16 at the time and the court tried to force him to share the name as well. He stubbornly refused. He later wrote:
"During my brother's confinement, which I resented a good deal, notwithstanding our private differences, I had the management of the paper; and I made bold to give our rulers some rubs in it, which my brother took very kindly, while others began to consider me in an unfavorable light, as a young genius that had a turn for libelling and satire. My brother's discharge was accompany'd with an order of the House (a very odd one), that 'James Franklin should no longer print the paper called the New England Courant.'" 
James got around that ban by releasing Ben from his apprenticeship (basically "graduating" him), and putting Ben's name on the masthead.

Then, as now, stubborn and recalcitrant "printers" are essential to prevent the never-ending attempts to censor Everyman. "Hate Speech" laws and "Blasphemy" laws are two sides of the same anti-Constitutional coin.  Freedom of the Press means both the right to print things the Printer himself disagrees with, and the right to print things that offend some people or even "all" people.

Just like in Franklin's day, sometimes the *authors* will need to be anonymous. But the Printers need liberty to make their platforms - whether Google or Facebook or Amazon or Wordpress or the New York Times  - available to all viewpoints without any government interference whatsoever.

In 1731, Franklin printed an advertisement from a ship captain who said he would not accept priests from the Church of England as his passengers.  Since America was still a colony of Great Britain, the Church of England was the OFFICIAL government-supported religion, and King George was the head of it. Other denominations were persecuted and "upstanding community leaders" were indignant over the advertisement.

Below is the full text of Franklin's response to the mob of pre-Twitter outrage:


An Apology for Printers by Benjamin Franklin

"Being frequently censured and condemned by different persons for printing things which they say ought not to be printed, I have sometimes thought it might be necessary to make a standing apology for myself, and publish it once a year, to be read upon all occasions of that nature. Much business has hitherto hindered the execution of this design; but having very lately given extraordinary offence by printing an advertisement with a certain N.B. at the end of it, I find an apology more particularly requisite at this juncture, though it happens when I have not yet leisure to write such a thing in the proper form, and can only in a loose manner throw those considerations together which should have been the substance of it. 

I request all who are angry with me on the account of printing things they don't like, calmly to consider these following particulars: 

1 . That the opinions of men are almost as various as their faces; an observation general enough to become a common proverb, "So many men so many minds"; 

2. That the business of printing has chiefly to do with men's opinions; most things that are printed tending to promote some, or oppose others; 

3. That hence arises the peculiar unhappiness of that business, which other callings are no way liable to; they who follow printing being scarce able to do anything in their way of getting a living, which shall not probably give offence to some, and perhaps to many; whereas the smith, the shoemaker, the carpenter, or the man of any other trade. 

For printers may work indifferently for people of all persuasions, without offending any of them; and the merchant may buy and sell with Jews, Turks, heretics and infidels of all sorts, and get money by every one of them, without giving offence to the most orthodox, of any sort; or suffering the least censure or ill-will on the account from any man whatever; 

4. That it is as unreasonable in any one man or set of men to expect to be pleased with everything that is printed, as to think that nobody ought to be pleased but themselves; 

5. Printers are educated in the belief, that when men differ in opinion, both sides ought equally to have the advantage of being heard by the public; and that when truth and error have fair play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter. Hence they cheerfully serve all contending writers that pay them well, without regarding on which side they are of the question in dispute; 

6. Being thus continually employed in serving both parties, printers naturally acquire a vast unconcernedness as to the right or wrong opinions contained in what they print; regarding it only as the matter of their daily labor. They print things full of spleen and animosity, with the utmost calmness and indifference, and without the least ill-will to the persons reflected on, who nevertheless unjustly think the printer as much their enemy as the author, and join both together in their resentment; 

7. That it is unreasonable to imagine printers approve of everything they print, and to censure them on any particular thing accordingly; since in the way of their business they print such great variety of things opposite and contradictory. It is likewise as unreasonable what some assert, "That printers ought not to print anything but what they approve;" since if all of that business should make such a resolution, and abide by it, an end would thereby be put to free writing, and the world would afterwards have nothing to read but what happened to be the opinions of printers; 

8. That if all printers were determined not to print anything till they were sure it would offend nobody, there would be very little printed; 

9. That if they sometimes print vicious or silly things not worth reading, it may not be because they approve such things themselves, but because the people are so viciously and corruptly educated that good things are not encouraged. I have known a very numerous impression of Robin Hood's songs go off in this province at 2 s. per book, in less than a twelvemonth; when a small quantity of David's Psalms (an excellent version) has lain upon my hands above twice the time; 

10. That notwithstanding what might be urged in behalf of a man's being allowed to do in the way of his business whatever he is paid for, yet printers do continually discourage the printing of great numbers of bad things, and stifle them in the birth. I myself have constantly refused to print anything that might countenance vice, or promote immorality; though by complying in such cases with the corrupt taste of the majority I might have got much money. 

I have also always refused to print such things as might do real injury to any person, how much soever I have been solicited, and tempted with offers of great pay; and how much soever I have by refusing got the ill-will of those who would have employed me. I have hitherto fallen under the resentment of large bodies of men, for refusing absolutely to print any of their party or personal reflections. In this manner I have made myself many enemies, and the constant fatigue of denying is almost insupportable. 

But the public being unacquainted with all this, whenever the poor printer happens either through ignorance or much persuasion, to do anything that is generally thought worthy of blame, he meets with no more friendship or favor on the above account, than if there were no merit in it at all. Thus, as Waller says. "Poets lose half the praise they would have got Were it but known what they discreetly blot;" yet are censured for every bad line found in their works with the utmost severity. 

I come now to the particular case of the N. B. above-mentioned, about which there has been more clamor against me, than ever before on any other account. 

In the hurry of other business an advertisement was brought to me to be printed. It signified that such a ship lying at such a wharf would sail for Barbados in such a time, and that freighters and passengers might agree with the captain at such a place. So far is what's common; but at the bottom this odd thing was added, "N. B. No Sea-hens nor Black Gowns will be admitted on any terms." I printed it, and received my money; and the advertisement was stuck up round the town as usual. I had not so much curiosity at that time as to enquire the meaning of it, nor did I in the least imagine it would give so much offence. 

Several good men are very angry with me on this occasion. They are pleased to say I have too much sense to do such things ignorantly, that if they were printers they would not have done such a thing on any consideration, that it could proceed from nothing but my abundant malice against religion and the clergy. They therefore declare they will not take any more of my papers, nor have any further dealings with me, but will hinder me of all the custom they can. All this is very hard! 

I believe it had been better if I had refused to print the said advertisement. However, it's done, and cannot be revoked. I have only the following few particulars to offer, some of them in my behalf, by way of mitigation, and some not much to the purpose; but I desire none of them may be read when the reader is not in a very good humor: 

1. That I really did it without the least malice, and imagined the N. B was placed there only to make the advertisement stared at, and more generally read; 

2. That I never saw the word Sea-hens before in my life; nor have I yet asked the meaning of it. And though I had certainly known that Black Gowns in that place signified the clergy of the Church of England, yet I have that confidence in the generous good temper of such of them as I know, as to be well satisfied such a trifling mention of their habit gives them no disturbance; 

3. That most of the clergy in this and the neighboring provinces, are my customers, and some of them my very good friends; and I must be very malicious, indeed, or very stupid, to print this thing for a small profit, if I had thought it would have given them just cause of offence ; 

4. That if I had much malice against the clergy, and withal much sense, it's strange I never write or talk against the clergy myself. Some have observed that it's a fruitful topic, and the easiest to be witty upon of all others; yet I appeal to the public that I am never guilty this way, and to all my acquaintances as to my conversation; 

5. That if a man of sense had malice enough to desire to injure the 
clergy, this is the most foolish thing he could possibly contrive for that purpose; 

6. That I got five shillings by it; 

7. That none who are angry with me would have given me so much to 
let it alone; 

8. That if all the people of different opinions in this province would engage to give me as much for not printing things they don't like, as I can get by printing them, I should probably live a very easy life; and if all printers were everywhere so dealt by, there would be very little printed; 

9. That I am obliged to all who take my paper, and am willing to think they do it out of mere friendship. I only desire they would think the same when I deal with them. I thank those who leave off, that they have taken it so long. But I beg they would not endeavor to dissuade others, for that will look like malice; 

10. That it's impossible any man should know what he would do if he were a printer; 

11. That notwithstanding the rashness and inexperience of youth, which is most likely to be prevailed upon to do things that ought not to be done, yet I have avoided printing such things as usually give offence either to church or state, more than any printer that has followed the business in this province before; 

12. And lastly, that I have printed above a thousand advertisements which made not the least mention of Sea-hens or Black Gowns; and this being the first offence, I have the more reason to expect forgiveness. 

I take leave to conclude with an old fable, which some of my readers have heard before, and some have not: 
"A certain well-meaning man and his son were traveling towards a market town with an ass which they had to sell. The road was bad, and the old man therefore rode, but the son went afoot. The first passerby they met asked the father if he was not ashamed to ride by himself, and suffer the poor lad to wade along through the mire; this induced him to take up his son behind him. 
"He had not traveled far, when he met others, who said, they are two unmerciful lubbers to get both on the back of that poor ass in such a deep road. Upon this the old man got off, and let his son ride alone. The next they met called the lad a graceless, rascally young jackanapes, to ride in that manner through the dirt, while his aged father trudged along on foot; and they said the old man was a fool for suffering it. 
"He then bid his son come down, and walk with him, and they traveled on leading the ass by the halter, till they met another company, who called them a couple of senseless blockheads, for going both on foot in such a dirty way, when they had an empty ass with them, which they might ride upon. The old man could bear it no longer. 'My son,' said he, 'it grieves me much that we cannot please all these people. Let me throw the ass over the next bridge, and be no further troubled with him.'" 

Had the old man been seen acting this last resolution, he would probably have been called a fool for troubling himself about the different opinions of all that were pleased to find fault with him. Therefore, though I have a temper almost as complying as his, I intend not to imitate him in this last particular. I consider the variety of humors among men, and despair of pleasing everybody; yet I shall not therefore leave off printing. 

I shall continue my business. I shall not burn my press and melt my letters. "

                                                             ~B. Franklin, 1731, Pennsylvania Gazette







Saturday, July 2, 2016

Orlando Nightclub Terror Attack Timeline Review: SWAT Has Become Too Risk Averse

Bringing everything together shows the shameful over-caution of SWAT leadership.  The first officers on the scene engaged the shooter immediately and cornered him. They were prepared to go in, finish him off and save lives but were ordered, no one knows why, to stay put and wait. Twenty minutes later, they were ordered to abandon their mission and leave the building, despite having the upper hand.

When heroes Gruler, Cornwell, Smith, and Backhaus left the building, SWAT was supposed to take over.

But SWAT did not act. The injured and hostages were left to fend for themselves.  One hundred armed police officers of various stripes sat outside that building for nearly three hours before they did anything more than the average grandmother would do.

And the average grandmother would not need to confer and plan and assess and wait for officials for hours before doing what she was equipped to do at the beginning, either.

Police and SWAT leaders' claims of concern about bombs do not stand up to the actual police incident reports, the reports of media on the scene, and the reports of survivors.  SWAT leadership is claiming "rescue" actions that were not police-assisted, or that were accomplished before  the full SWAT Team arrived , or didn't happen until hours later, and what little was done were low risk ventures.

When SWAT leaders did finally get around to doing something, the very thing their unit exists to do, they flubbed the whole thing. Their explosives didn't breach the wall, so they had to ram it with a truck.  They broke through in the wrong place - missed the bathroom completely, and broke into a hallway they could have just walked into from the front door, since the terrorist was holed up in the bathroom.

In three hours, with the nightclub manager on hand, SWAT leadership failed to confirm the locations of the rooms they needed to enter.

There's still no good explanation for why they waited, knowing full well that many hostages in the bathroom had already been shot and were barely clinging to life (at least one of whom died while they dithered), nor for why they finally decided to act after all.  The claim of his threat to put vests on hostages, given that he had already shot and killed so many, does not hold water.

Even after the terrorist was dead, SWAT leadership continued to delay treatment to the injured. Despite having a robot on hand, and knowing the terrorist was in the bathroom, they did not send the robot into the building until after they'd killed him and breached the other walls.   Once the robot was inside, they mistook a broken exit sign for an "explosive device" and further delayed paramedics from entering the building.

It's all on the public record:

[2:00 AM] The Guardian: Terrorist opens fire on the dance floor at Pulse nightclub, and people begin trying to escape.  "Burbano: “By the time it got to 20 to 30 rounds we were already trying to exit the side exitway behind the stage. It was very narrow. There was about 20 to 30 people trying to push themselves through a very small door and there was a huge gaping hole in the fence that looked like people had punched it and kicked it down."

"Imran Yousuf, 24, a bouncer and former Marine who served in Afghanistan, saw people pouring into the back hallway. No one was calm enough to unlatch the exit door.  "I jumped over to open that latch and we got everyone that we can out of there,” he told CBS News, estimating that 60 or 70 people got out that way."

"Hansen was at the bar. “The shooter came in through the front door and was shooting at the dancefloor and the bar,” he recalled. Hansen started crawling towards the club’s outdoor patio.
 Hansen reached the patio and, with others, pushed over a fence. "

"Gonzalez hid behind a bar until he was able to flee.

"Adam Gruler, an off-duty Orlando city police officer who was working security at Pulse that night, began to exchange fire with Mateen. Realising he was outgunned, he called for back-up.

"Gruler and the next ...officers to arrive on scene, Swat team members Scott Smith and Jeffrey Backhaus, went straight into the club and secured a large area where the first victims had been gunned down....."

[2:00 AM]  WNCN:  "Club-goer Rob Rick said it happened around, 2 a.m., just before closing time....  He estimated more than 100 people were still inside when he heard shots, got on the ground and crawled toward a DJ booth. A bouncer knocked down a partition between the club area and an area in the back where only workers are allowed. People inside were able to then escape through the back of the club. "

[2:02 AM]  Adam Gruler, an off-duty Orlando Police Officer who was working security at Pulse, immediately engaged the terrorist and called for back-up.

Belle Isle, Fla., Police Officer Brandon Cornwell, assisting a traffic stop when he heard the call, arrived "within 36 seconds" after hearing the dispatch.

Orlando Police Officers Scott Smith and Jeffrey Backhaus, who were patrolling nearby when they heard the call, were at the scene, pulling their own assault rifles and gear out of their trunks when Cornwell arrived.

The Washington  Post reported: "After an initial burst of fire between Omar Mateen and a security guard at the Pulse nightclub, a group of five or six police officers arrived on the scene within minutes, broke through a large glass window and entered the club."

"Cornwell estimated that “no more than two minutes” had elapsed since he and the other officers arrived, and they were now inside the club.

"Cornwell and the other officers immediately began “clearing rooms” one by one — not knowing if there was more than one shooter — and trying to locate the source of the gunfire. But fairly quickly — “within minutes,” Cornwell said — officers located Mateen in the bathroom area.

[2:05 AM ] CNN: "Patience Carter says the shooter enters the bathroom and shoots several people hiding there. People scream and scramble as blood flies. Then the gunman stops shooting."

Guardian: "For many who prayed the bathroom would provide refuge, it became a death trap. Mateen entered, barricaded himself in and carried on firing, reportedly laughing as he kept pulling the trigger."

WaPo: "At that point, [Cornwell] said, “we took up a tactical position by the bar standpoint in the middle of the club.” As he aimed his AR-15 assault rifle toward the bathroom door, he said, the shooting stopped. And it was then that the “15 or 20 minute” holding pattern began, he said.

"..... he and his fellow officers were [ordered] to hold their position rather than attempt to go into the bathroom after the shooter.

"He kept aiming, waiting for SWAT. More screaming. He and the other officers held their position, focused on the bathroom, where he could see “some movement inside,” he said.

[2:06 AM]  CNN:  Shooting victim Eddie Jamoldroy Justice texts his mother from a bathroom stall, asks her to call police.

[2:18 AM]  WaPo reports: The SWAT team was called in.

[2:20 AM]  The rescue team who confronted and cornered the terrorist is ordered to abandon their mission. Officer Cornwell, who was still aiming at the bathroom the terrorist was in, and who could see movement, reported: “We got word from higher up, and it was communicated to the OPD lieutenant that we needed to withdraw,” he said. “So we came back outside. And waited for SWAT. SWAT arrived. SWAT handled everything from there.”

"Outside, Cornwell said, he spent the next several hours helping  transport victims to ambulances. He arrived back at the Belle Isle Police Department on Sunday afternoon, his uniform and all his
equipment saturated with blood."

[2:21 AM] NYT:  911 log:"One woman, who called at 2:21 a.m., said her body was going numb.
For 24 minutes, the woman, who the log shows was 18, said everyone in the bathroom was injured and groaning in pain. "Just keeps saying I don’t want to die today,” the operator wrote. At one point, she was losing her eyesight and feeling in her body. “Just keeps pleading, please come to the bathroom,” the log says." At 2:45 a.m., the line went dead.

[2:30 AM] WaPo reports: "While some survivors described harried rescues by individual officers during the first half-hour or so, others inside the club remained trapped for hours."

[2:30 - 2:34 AM]  NYT: "The sheriff’s records also showed that callers reported hearing gunshots at 2:30 and 2:34 a.m., raising questions about earlier police accounts. Chief John Mina of the Orlando police had said the gunman did not fire any shots after 2:18 a.m."

[2:35 AM] Terrorist made his first 911 call

[2:42 AM] Hostage Eddie Justice texted his mother that lots of people were hurt. She asked if he was with the police. At 2:46 AM, he wrote “No. Still here in bathroom. He has us. They need to come get us.”

[2:45 AM] CNN reports: "Some 100 officers from the Orange County Sheriff's Office and the Orlando Police Department respond to the chaotic scene [between 2:02 - 2:47 AM]."

[2:45 AM] LA Times reports: Capt. Mark Canty of the SWAT team arrived on scene.
"Canty said Friday. “We have to step back and position ourselves to contain him and assess what is the best way to enter the building.” [Note: despite the fact that the real heroes had already contained the terrorist within 10 minutes of the attack, and would have neutralized him had they not been ordered to stand down and wait for Canty's SWAT team.]

"Canty and other police began to position themselves outside the darkened building. They considered smashing through a wall to reach the hostages. “We had been discussing the breach from shortly after I got there just because we realized it was going to be difficult to get to the hostages from the interior,” he said.

"An Orange County, Fla., Sheriff’s Office bomb squad was on the way, and Canty asked the commander to prepare an explosive to break through the club’s walls."

"Some of the 44 SWAT team members replaced patrol officers stationed around the club in case the shooter emerged. "

“There was a group in a dressing room. They were kind of isolated from where the shooter was, and we were able to get them out a door on the north side of the building,” Canty said. Outside, officers helped punch holes in a fence so people who had reached a patio could escape. [NOTE: Survivors who reached the patio had escaped through holes in the fence long before SWAT arrived. If police helped with this, it was the original duty officers - not "special" teams. But survivors did not report the presence of police during their escape through the fence. ]

"The club manager was in touch with employees trapped in another dressing room with an air conditioning unit in the wall. “We were able to get that air conditioning unit out and get them out,” he said. About a dozen people were freed from the two dressing rooms. " [NOTE: This did not occur until 3:58 AM, nearly two hours after the shooting started.]

[2:48 AM] Police Negotiator talks to Terrorist for 9 minutes

[2:49 AM ] CNN:  Shooting victim Eddie Jamoldroy Justice texts his mother again. Tells her Terrorist is in the bathroom with them.  Mina Justice told her son the police were there and to let her know when he saw them. “Hurry,” Eddie wrote. “He’s in the bathroom with us.”

[2:50 AM] Eddie Justice sent his final text to his mother. He did not survive. He was killed.

[2:51 AM] NY Times:  "Dispatch log records released on Thursday by the Orange County sheriff’s office showed that officers were first warned about the possibility of explosives at 2:51 a.m., 49 minutes after the shooting began."

 [2:51 AM]  RT:  "“Shooter saying possible explosives in the parking lot,” East reports at 2:51. “Subject is saying that he is a terrorist and has several bombs strapped to him in the downstairs female restroom,” Desk2 reports at 2:54."

[3.03 AM] Police Negotiator talks to Terrorist for 16 minutes

[3:24 AM] Police Negotiator talks to Terrorist for  3 minutes,

CNN:  "While officers are negotiating with the suspect, eight people were able to escape with the help of law enforcement, by removing an air conditioning unit and crawling through the hole created."  [NOTE: this is from the dressing rooms that SWAT commander described. ]
[3:58 AM] Guardian: "police tried creating exit routes for the trapped clubbers. They tore a window air conditioning unit out, after hearing the thumping of fists coming from a dressing room on the other side. At least four people escaped that way." [Note: same dressing room "rescue"]
[4:21 AM] WaPo reports: "Some [survivors] were rescued at 4:21 a.m. — more than two hours after the shooting began — by police working from outside the building. The FBI’s timeline does not describe any SWAT movement into the building until 5 a.m. [Note: same dressing room "rescue"]

[4:09 AM] RT:  "“Subject is in male restroom and is now reloading his guns,” Desk2 reports at 4:09, adding “and is about to start shooting again” at 4:13. "

[5:02 AM] RT (from official Police Incident Report)  "The SWAT team breaches the club at 5:02. Callers report explosions, with Desk1 confirming they can be heard in the background."

[Approximately 5:00 AM]  CNN: "SWAT members detonate an explosive to blow a hole in the wall but its only partially effective. They then use an armored vehicle to breach the final hole in the wall. But it leads them only to the hallway, not to the bathroom. They continue trying to breach using the vehicle.

"They also smash down a door at the club, clearing the way for some 30 people inside to flee to safety."  [ NOTE: is this the other dressing room Canty mentioned above?]

[shortly before 5:00 AM] LA Times:  “He talked about putting vests on the hostages and sending them out to the four corners of the club,” Canty said. Mateen claimed to have a vest for himself too, according to the police chief. And the gunman said he’d take action in 15 minutes.

“We had started prepping [an explosive] charge. We were getting ready as quickly as we could.”

Canty was at the command post a few blocks from the club with Orlando Police Chief John Mina. They reviewed the plan to rescue the hostages, and Mina made the call to use the explosive to break through a wall of the club.

In the bathrooms, Aiken, 29, heard police on a loudspeaker: “Move as far away from the walls as you can.” He said the gunman then started shooting again.

The first explosion didn’t quite break the wall, so the SWAT team used an armored, Humvee-style BearCat vehicle to ram it, Canty said.

“The hole was in the wrong spot. It was in the hall between the two bathrooms. So they attempted to make a second hole,” he said.

[5:00 AM]   When officers heard gunshots inside, they hurled in some nonlethal explosive flash-bang devices to divert the shooter and then rammed the wall a few more times, finally breaking into one of the bathrooms where the hostages were trapped with the gunman.

That’s when they faced off with Mateen. “He starts coming out of the first hole, and that’s where he engages the officers in gunfire,” Canty said. Ten SWAT team members opened fire and killed the shooter.

The team freed more than 20 hostages, helping those who could not walk.

Canty said the rescue showed why police increasingly invest in military-style equipment like the BearCat. He said his team followed “accepted tactics” and did all it could to help those trapped inside the club.

The Guardian:  "For those imprisoned inside, it was the moment of salvation. Torres recalled a loud explosion and the bathroom filling with dust. Within seconds members of the police Swat team had burst in. Torres was dragged up and virtually hurled through the hole in the wall, landing on the hard ground outside the club, grazing his arm and side. He was quickly taken to Florida hospital. Later on Sunday, he was released.

"Santiago, still on the ground in a pool of blood, said he heard the police arrive, yelling: “Drop it! Hands up!” Then he heard police chatter on a distant radio. Unable to walk, he dragged himself under the stall to exit it. He saw a body in front of the door on the opposite side. There was no one else. He dragged himself out of the bathroom towards the bar area and saw the face of a police officer.

"Santiago waved the light of his cellphone so the officers could see him. They told him to lift his hands and drop whatever he was carrying. Santiago complied and dragged himself towards them.

"They grabbed him by the arms and took him outside, where he told them there were at least 15 people in the bathroom needing help.

“At that point they asked me instructions on exactly where the bathroom was,” he said. “After I told them, they put me in an ambulance.”

"Mateen himself came through the hole, still shooting. He hit Swat officer Michael Napolitano’s Kevlar helmet, directly in front of his forehead. But now he was outnumbered, by 14 law enforcement officers, and outgunned."

[5:15 AM]  CNN:  "CNN field team and affiliates report hearing multiple gunshots.
As SWAT officers attempt to breach another wall, the suspect leaves the bathroom and he begins shooting at them. Police return fire and kill him."

[SOMETIME AFTER 5:15 AM]  WNCN:  "Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer says at first officers mistakenly thought the gunman had strapped explosives to the dead victims and that the club was booby-trapped. A bomb robot sent back images of a battery part next to a body.

"Dyer says that held up paramedics from going in until it was determined it was something that fell out of an exit sign or a smoke detector.

"The robot was sent in after SWAT team members put explosive charges on a wall and an armored vehicle knocked the wall down in an effort to rescue hostages."

[10:00 AM] LA Times:  "Many SWAT team members stayed until 10 a.m., when they were sent home to rest. By 5 p.m., they were back on duty, Canty said, “ready for anything else that may occur in the city of Orlando.”

WNCN:  "The Orlando mayor says of the 50 victims who died from the shooting, 39 were killed at the club and 11 people died at hospitals."

~~~  ~~~  ~~~~~


SWAT Captain Mark Canty's remark, after leaving unarmed, injured people at the mercy of a terrorist for hours, that "that is why police need military-style equipment" sounds more like the comment of a tone-deaf, self-serving politician than of the police we once trusted to have courage.

The men without equipment  - those officers first on the scene - acted like Men, and the men with equipment - the SWAT team - acted like Insurance Adjusters.

If anything, the actions of Orlando SWAT leadership make a case for every citizen to be trained and armed equally with the police.







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