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Member since: Sun Jan 14, 2007, 01:51 PM
Number of posts: 7,981

Journal Archives

Two Lives Collide, and End, at an Elvis Shrine

HOLLY SPRINGS, Miss. — Late on Tuesday night, Dwight David Taylor Jr. walked past the stone lions, the grove of blue Christmas trees and the pillars topped by spray-painted basketballs and stood on the front porch of Graceland Too.

Showing up here late at night was not in itself unusual as Graceland Too, a deliriously baroque shrine to all things Elvis Presley and many things less obviously germane, was advertised as ready to give tours at any hour. Over the past 24 years, it has become a destination for drunk fraternity brothers in the middle of the night and international tourists on the Elvis pilgrimage from Tupelo (for the birthplace) to Memphis (for the other Graceland), while its resident, Paul McLeod, has gone from eccentric proprietor to main attraction.

It is still unclear what brought Mr. Taylor, 28, to the house on Tuesday, but by 10:45, he was dead, shot by Mr. McLeod in his front room, apparently after having forced his way in. Less than two days later, Mr. McLeod was dead, too, found around sunrise on Thursday in a chair on his front porch, apparently succumbing to natural causes, perhaps compounded by the traumas of the past 36 hours.

There were plenty of people here in Holly Springs who knew Mr. Taylor as someone almost perpetually down on his luck, living in an abandoned house and knocking on doors looking for odd jobs or a little money, and they feared a bad end.

Posted by SecularMotion | Fri Jul 18, 2014, 08:41 AM (3 replies)

Shooting target left outside Capitol Hill office of League of Women Voters

In an apparent attempt at intimidation, an anonymous person or group left a paper target riddled with bullet holes outside the League of Women Voters of Seattle-King County office over the July 4th weekend following the nonprofit’s endorsement of gun control legislation.

Last week the LWVS-KC posted a Facebook picture of the shooting target left outside their 18th and Madison office. Recently, the local chapter of the national nonpartisan group had taken a position in support of Initiative 594, a measure that would require universal background checks for all gun purchases in the state.

Ellen Barton, president of the LWVS-KC, said in at statement that the group has a long history of facing intimidation tactics and would not back down from their position.

“This apparent attempt to intimidate us will not dissuade us from our work. The League of Women Voters will continue to be a forum for dialogue, research and education on gun laws and gun violence, and we look forward to reasonable, robust dialogue in the months ahead,” Barton said.

Posted by SecularMotion | Fri Jul 18, 2014, 07:53 AM (4 replies)

Poll Finds Americans’ Favorite Faith Group Is Their Own

Washington — Are you sitting down? New research shows that when people are asked to rate their own faith group compared with others, they rate it more positively.

A survey out Wednesday by the Pew Research Center asked respondents to identify their feelings about various faith groups on a “cool” to “hot,” 1 to 100 feelings thermometer. A 50 was described as neutral, not having “particularly” positive or negative feelings.

Every group, from atheists to Catholics and black Protestants to white evangelicals, felt most warmly about people like them. For example, Catholics get an 80 thermometer reading from other Catholics, compared with a 58 among non-Catholics, and evangelicals get a 79 from people who call themselves born-again or evangelical, compared with a 52 from non-evangelicals.

Rating one another sounds like a harsh high school popularity game, but the survey shows a clear correlation between knowing someone of another faith and feeling more positively about them. For example, Jews get a 69 reading from people who know Jews, compared with a 55 from people who say they don’t know anyone Jewish. Atheists receive a neutral score of 50 among people who know an atheist, compared with a cold 29 by people who say they don’t know any atheists. People who know a Muslim give a neutral number (49) compared with a cooler one (35) from people who know none.

Posted by SecularMotion | Fri Jul 18, 2014, 05:17 AM (1 replies)

Family, not religion, will influence our attitude to assisted dying

One of the difficulties for the opponents of assisted dying is that they are thought of as religious fanatics. So tactically it isn’t a good move for 23 religious leaders to release a letter denouncing Lord Falconer’s bill. It will confirm to the bill’s supporters that opposition to it comes only from religious people and that they, in turn, are motivated by the teachings of their scriptures.

This last point is a bit rich when it comes from people who will, in other circumstances, argue that scripture is full of exhortations to genocide (and the Old Testament has plenty in its accounts of the conquest of what is now occupied Palestine). There is even a biblical precedent for assisted dying, when Abimelech, a remarkably unsavoury king of Israel who came to power by executing 70 half-brothers, found himself in a bad way after a woman in a town he was besieging dropped a millstone on his head and “broke his brainpan”, as the Geneva Bible says. He called for his armour bearer to kill him so that it might not be said a woman had done so, and the obedient young man did.

I don’t doubt you could make a less lurid Christian case for assisting the death of some patients. Polls show that a large majority of Christians and Jews favour assisted dying under some circumstances. And there is always Lord Carey. So the appeal to official teaching doesn’t do much to persuade waverers.

What is more important in this context is that it does little to persuade believers either. Detailed polling by professor Linda Woodhead shows that hardly anyone makes up their minds on moral questions by reference to the views of local or national religious leaders. For Anglicans, the figure is 2%; even among Muslims, fewer than 14% say they take any notice of what religious leaders tell them when deciding moral questions. What matters overwhelmingly are individual judgment, feeling and the influence of family.

Posted by SecularMotion | Fri Jul 18, 2014, 05:14 AM (7 replies)

Statement on Governor Christie’s Veto of Ban on High-Capacity Ammunition Magazines

Washington, DC — On Wednesday, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie vetoed legislation that would have changed the limit on the capacity of ammunition magazines from 15 rounds to 10. Violence Policy Center Legislative Director Kristen Rand issued the following statement:

“Governor Christie has chosen to put gun industry profits ahead of saving lives. A ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines would protect law enforcement and the general public, and it would limit the firepower available to criminals and mass shooters. By vetoing this bill, Governor Christie has turned his back on an opportunity to improve public safety in communities across the state.”

Since 1984, there have been at least 12 mass shootings in the U.S. where the killer used magazines holding between 10 and 15 rounds. One of them was the 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech that left 33 dead and 17 wounded.

Posted by SecularMotion | Fri Jul 11, 2014, 05:31 AM (23 replies)

The will of the people

Americans want safety from guns

When it comes to common-sense gun regulation, Washington and the American people are living on different planets.

Fully 92% of the voters surveyed in a new poll — including 86% of registered Republicans — support mandating background checks before gun purchases.

But Congress has stubbornly refused to extend this most basic precaution against gun violence to all firearms sales.

So the federal law that requires instant background checks in licensed gun stores continues to exempt gun shows and private deals, which account for an estimated 40% of all weapons sales.

Posted by SecularMotion | Wed Jul 9, 2014, 04:56 AM (31 replies)

10 states where guns are most (and least) likely to kill people

In what states are guns most likely, and least likely, to kill people? Every day in America, nearly 90 people are killed by guns, a total of roughly 32,000 annually, according to federal gun violence statistics.

But blue states are far safer than red states, according new analyses of the most recent data. That’s because states with the most gun controls, which are almost all blue, tend to have fewer gun owners and fewer guns used in suicides, crime and domestic disputes.

Nearly two-thirds of all gun deaths are suicides. There, states with the highest gun ownership rates and loosest laws have the highest percentages of deaths this way. Otherwise, poverty is a major factor, correlating with gun violence.

“The five states with the highest per capita gun death rates in 2011 were Louisiana, Mississippi, Alaska, Wyoming, and Montana,” the Violence Policy Center (VPC) said in its latest analysis of federal statistics. “Each of these states has extremely lax gun violence prevention laws as well as a higher rate of gun ownership. The state with the lowest gun death rate in the nation was Rhode Island, followed by Hawaii, Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey. Each of these states has strong gun violence prevention laws and has a lower rate of gun ownership.”

Posted by SecularMotion | Wed Jul 9, 2014, 04:52 AM (15 replies)

Stray bullet that injured bystander could have traveled miles

Ballistics experts said Monday that it may be difficult to determine who fired the errant shot that paralyzed a father of four on the Fourth of July in Charlotte because some bullets can travel up to several miles.

“I cannot imagine being able to solve that case,” said Gregory D. Lee, a criminal justice consultant and expert witness from California. “Who knows where that bullet came from?”

Brandon Yam, 47, was selling food and drinks with his wife and two of his children at a festival celebrating the opening of the Cambodian Buddhist Temple, at 219 Owen Blvd. in Charlotte.

About 9 p.m., as people at the temple started shooting off fireworks, Yam started to pack up his supplies to go home, his family said.

Posted by SecularMotion | Tue Jul 8, 2014, 12:11 PM (16 replies)

Man accused of brandishing handgun in Pocatello bar

POCATELLO — A local man is facing a felony charge of aggravated assault after he allegedly brandished and pointed a handgun at customers and employees of the Chalk Horse in Pocatello.

Lt. Paul Manning, of the Pocatello Police Department, said the incident occurred during the early morning hours of June 22 when Omar E. Mahmoud and another person reportedly got into a verbal altercation. Both were asked to leave the establishment.

Manning says witness accounts in police reports suggest that Mahmoud got in his car and drove down the alley behind the Chalk Horse, employees believing he had left. But he came back to the establishment, entering from that alley area at around 2:30 a.m.

“A few minutes later he came walking back from the alley holding a gun in his hand,” Manning said, reading from the report. “He allegedly pointed the gun toward patrons in the parking lot.”

Posted by SecularMotion | Tue Jul 8, 2014, 09:56 AM (8 replies)

Burnside man fires rifle, points gun at neighbors, sheriff says

A Pulaski County man was arrested after he allegedly fired shots and brandished a rifle at neighbors, police said.

Dennis Ward, 66, of Burnside, was arrested Sunday afternoon on two counts of first-degree wanton endangerment, the Pulaski County sheriff's office said.

David Moore told deputies that Ward fired several shots Saturday near Moore's home on County Road, according to the sheriff's office. Moore stated that when he went outside to see what was happening, Ward allegedly pointed the rifle at him and threatened to kill Moore and his girlfriend, deputies said.

Posted by SecularMotion | Tue Jul 8, 2014, 09:52 AM (4 replies)
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