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Zorro's Journal
Zorro's Journal
December 10, 2020

Stealing to survive: More Americans are shoplifting food as aid runs out during the pandemic

Retailers, police departments and loss prevention researchers are reporting an uptick in theft of necessities like food and hygiene products

Early in the pandemic, Joo Park noticed a worrisome shift at the market he manages near downtown Washington: At least once a day, he’d spot someone slipping a package of meat, a bag of rice or other food into a shirt or under a jacket. Diapers, shampoo and laundry detergent began disappearing in bigger numbers, too.

Since then, he said, thefts have more than doubled at Capitol Supermarket — even though he now stations more employees at the entrance, asks shoppers to leave backpacks up front and displays high-theft items like hand sanitizer and baking yeast in more conspicuous areas. Park doesn’t usually call the police, choosing instead to bar offenders from coming back.

“It’s become much harder during the pandemic,” he said. “People will say, ‘I was just hungry.’ And then what do you do?”

The coronavirus recession has been a relentless churn of high unemployment and economic uncertainty. The government stimulus that kept millions of Americans from falling into poverty earlier in the pandemic is long gone, and new aid is still a dot on the horizon after months of congressional inaction. Hunger is chronic, at levels not seen in decades.

December 10, 2020

Bradenton woman stashed body in trash to collect Social Security, deputies say

Michelle Haney, 48, said she came home to find roommate Jon Leonard dead. Instead of reporting the discovery, she hid his body, the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office said.

One day in July, investigators say, Michelle Haney came home to a grim discovery.

She found her 40-year-old roommate, Jon Christopher Leonard, dead in the home they shared at 5023 Windmill Manor Lane, in the Windmill Mobile Home Park off State Road 70, according to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.

Instead of reporting the discovery, Haney stashed Leonard’s body in a closet, then moved the body to a trash can, sealed it up, and left it at a next-door neighbor’s home, detectives say.

Her motive?

“She admitted to doing this so she could use his social security benefits after he died,” the Sheriff’s Office said in a news release Wednesday.


Mystery solved.
December 10, 2020

A Fake 'War on Christmas' and the Real Battle Against Covid

There are two culture wars, but only one with deadly consequences.

By Jennifer Weiner

It’s the Christmas season, when the air is usually filled with the sound of carols, the jingling of cash registers and the cries of the religious right and its political bedmates complaining that a cashier who says, “happy holidays,” or an insufficiently Christmas-specific Starbucks cup constitutes an attack on their beliefs. In other words, it’s getting to be “war on Christmas” time.

There is, of course, no actual war against Christmas, although over the years it’s been an extremely useful fiction. Fox News personalities and conservative politicians tell believers that they are a persecuted minority and that they need to give their votes, their support and their money to those who would defend them.

This year that fake war, with nary a single true victim, is running straight into another culture war, one with fatal potential. Some of the very people who see anti-Christian bigotry in the words “happy holidays” have now located the same dark intent in Covid-19-related restrictions.

“Our federal overlords say ‘no singing’ and ‘no shouting’ on Thanksgiving,” Representative Paul Gosar, Republican of Arizona, wrote as he retweeted a Centers for Disease Control list of Thanksgiving safety tips. The recommendations included “No singing or shouting,” “One person serves the food,” “Increase ventilation indoors,” “Eat outside if you can” and — the only tip that felt like an attack to me — “Keep pets away from guests.”

December 10, 2020

The danger is growing that Trump's lies about the election will lead to violence

Opinion by Editorial Board

PRESIDENT TRUMP’S lying about the election has become dangerous — and not just in the sense that it damages democratic norms. It also increasingly threatens to spur physical violence against Americans who have done their duty to oversee a free and fair vote.

Officials in Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Kentucky, Minnesota, Vermont and Wisconsin have reported receiving threats or harassment. The Arizona Republican Party asked its Twitter followers Tuesday if they were willing to give their lives to overturn the election and “die for something.”

Armed “protesters” menaced Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D) and her family in their home over the weekend. “Someone’s going to get killed,” said Gabriel Sterling, a senior Georgia election official, as he detailed last week the death threats he and others have received. Yet, Mr. Trump continues to pour gasoline on the fire, tweeting Wednesday that “We will soon be learning about the word ‘courage’, and saving our Country.” Kim Ward, the majority leader of the Pennsylvania state Senate, told the New York Times that if she refused to cooperate with efforts to challenge the election result, “I’d get my house bombed tonight.”

A silver lining in Mr. Trump’s post-election tantrum has been witnessing mostly state-level Republicans stand up for the democratic process against extreme pressure from the president and his supporters. Yet in many of these cases, the officials involved had no legal option to do otherwise. And even some of those who did the right thing when the law demanded it have turned around and attacked others caught between official responsibilities and partisan pressure — in an attempt to pass the buck onto some other official who does not have the luxury of denying the truth.


December 10, 2020

Father decapitated two children, forced other kids to view bodies over five days, prosecutors allege

The horror inside the beige Lancaster home began to unfold the Sunday after Thanksgiving.

Maurice Jewel Taylor Sr., 34, decapitated his son and daughter, authorities allege. Then, for the next five days, he kept the bodies of 12-year-old Maurice Jr. and 13-year-old Maliaka inside the house, along with his two younger sons, ages 8 and 9.

During this period, prosecutors allege in court papers filed Tuesday, the personal trainer showed the dead bodies to the surviving children, who were kept in their rooms without food.

It wasn’t until Friday that a call about a possible gas leak brought firefighters to the gruesome scene inside the house on Century Circle.


December 9, 2020

Trump administration rushes sale of California oil leases despite certain legal battle

Source: LA Times

The Trump administration on Thursday plans to hold the first oil lease sale in California in eight years, part of a last-minute rush to auction off as much federal land as possible before President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in.

The Bureau of Land Management said the sale would encompass just over 4,100 acres of federal land and mineral estate in Kern County, where the majority of drilling in the state takes place. The agency estimates that as many as 10 new wells could be drilled on the land for sale.

But even if the administration succeeds in auctioning off the leases, any attempts at new oil and gas development are likely to face significant opposition in the courts and from the incoming Biden administration.

During the campaign, Biden said he would transition the country away from oil and gas as part of a vow to address climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. He promised to ban new drilling on federal land, a pledge that the Trump campaign tried but failed to use against him.

Read more: https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-12-09/trump-california-oil-leases-sale

Trump has to fuck with California at least one more time before leaving office.
December 9, 2020

Man holding trash can for friend in Bradenton finds body

After about two months, the friend had not returned and the man smelled a foul odor. He opened the can and found a wrapped-up body.

A Florida man who had been storing a trash can for a friend for more than two months, found a badly decomposing body inside when he opened it, authorities said.

The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office said the unidentified man had been holding the 55-gallon container for a friend who promised to retrieve it later. But the friend never returned and after about two months, the man smelled a foul odor and opened the container. Inside were human remains that had been wrapped up.

The Herald-Tribune reported Tuesday that the body was found in a mobile home park at 5019 Windmill Manor Ave. in Bradenton. The Sheriff’s Office is investigating the identity of the remains and the cause of death. An autopsy was scheduled for Wednesday.

Detectives are following leads as the investigation continues, but have not named a suspect. An autopsy was scheduled for Wednesday.


Who "stores" a trash can for a friend?
December 9, 2020

It's time for the brat in the White House to make his great escape

Opinion by Kathleen Parker

In the film version of Dan Brown’s “Angels and Demons,” the most memorable scene features the pope’s camerlengo, or right-hand man, hijacking a helicopter from St. Peter’s Square, along with, implausibly, a vessel containing antimatter.

The camerlengo ostensibly intends to save the Vatican from an antimatter attack plotted by various church conspirators. In fact, the plotter is the camerlengo himself. What matters today is that the camerlengo bails out just before the chopper explodes and, wearing a parachute, floats celestially to the basilica roof, where he kneels in prayer and is proclaimed a hero-savior.

I’ve ruined the movie if you haven’t seen it, but stand by: Another movie about getaways is in the making, starring President Trump, who is said to be plotting a dramatic exit from the White House — aboard Marine One in his last government-subsidized chopper ride, followed by a flight to Florida for a rally timed opposite the inauguration ceremony of President-elect Joe Biden.

What a sad little man.


December 9, 2020

Trump's Republicans have gone around the bend

Opinion by Jennifer Rubin

President Trump’s legal team, cheered on by grossly irresponsible Republican officeholders and activists, vowed to fight on to the bitter end on Tuesday. That had extra significance because Tuesday was “safe harbor day,” after which any slate of electors certified by states must be considered valid by Congress and the courts, according to federal law. But Trump’s lawyers, who have more than 50 cases for absolute want of evidence, insist they will press on beyond the safe harbor date. Should we expect them to cease and desist even after the electors meet on Dec. 14 to cast their votes? Please.

Trump continues to put pressure on state officials, most recently the Republican House leader in Pennsylvania, to overturn the will of voters. (He previously reached out to the Wayne County, Mich., canvassing board and Republican leaders in the Michigan state legislature.) This is a coup attempt, plain and simple — however far-fetched. A lonely Republican, Sen. Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.), who already announced he will not run for reelection, denounced such efforts. “It’s completely unacceptable and it’s not going to work and the president should give up trying to get legislatures to overturn the results of the elections in their respective states,” Toomey said.

Most Republicans remain mute, but at least one was champing at the bit to join in Trump’s preposterous abuse of the legal system. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) “volunteered” to argue before the Supreme Court on behalf of Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) to throw out mail-in ballots. Kimberly Wehle at the Bulwark, a Never Trumper site, excoriated the Texan: “You got that right. Cruz — the strict constructionist — is eager to stand before the U.S. Supreme Court to argue that the Pennsylvania legislature had no power to allow universal mail-in voting, but does have the power to throw out every single vote cast in Pennsylvania and impose its own political will on the citizens of Pennsylvania, who chose Joe Biden for president by a nearly 82,000-vote margin over Donald Trump.” Thank goodness, the Supreme Court rejected the appeal on Tuesday with no dissents.

Trump has no incentive to stop his efforts to overturn a valid election. To the contrary, with blowhards like Cruz available to provide a patina of respectability, and nearly all elected Republicans refusing to recognize the election results, he has every reason to hit up his fans for more donations and to continue insisting he is the rightful winner. When three Republican members of the inauguration committee refuse to recognize President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, and when the Arizona Republican Party retweets a right-wing extremist’s declaration that he is “willing to give up my life for this fight,“ we see that far from being isolated, Trump is right at home in today’s deranged Republican Party.


December 9, 2020

A GOP senator reveals just how deranged many in his party have become

Opinion by Greg Sargent

Sen. Patrick J. Toomey, Republican of Pennsylvania, has done something truly extraordinary. He has now stated in unequivocal terms that it’s unacceptable for his fellow Republicans to try to subvert the will of American voters to keep President Trump in power illegitimately.

Why have so few other Republicans proved willing to take this simple step?

Toomey’s declaration contrasts sharply with a new development in the Georgia runoffs. GOP Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue just announced their support for a deranged lawsuit filed by Texas that seeks to overturn popular vote outcomes in four battleground states that Trump lost.

Those Georgia moves capture a broader state of affairs: It appears that untold numbers of elected Republicans are trying to inspire in GOP voters a state of what you might call permanent warfare against our democratic institutions and the opposition’s voters alike.


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