Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley

April 24 2014 12:57 PM

Cliven Bundy's Racist Comments Were Caught on Video

Here, apparently via Media Matters:

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April 24 2014 12:47 PM

The Yankees Are More Popular Than the Mets in Every Single New York Zip Code


New York Times

It's all gray because every single zip code had more Yankees fans than Mets fans. Including the ones immediately surrounding the Mets' stadium. Though there is the possibility that Mets fans simply don't sign up for Facebook at the same rate as Yankee fans (because the debilitating long-term sadness makes it unbearably difficult to interact, even online, with other humans).

April 24 2014 11:23 AM

White Supremacist Suspect in Kansas Mass Shooting Was Once Arrested "Mid-Act" with Black Male Prostitute

ABC has a detailed story today on the background of Frazier Glenn Miller, the white supremacist arrested for the shooting death of three people near a Jewish community center and retirement home in Kansas. In the 1980s Miller was briefly a fugitive after his white supremacist pseudo-military group announced a "war" on minorities. He was caught and quickly became a witness against his associates. Authorities then began looking into his past:

In the course of their investigation, authorities also learned the stunning details of Miller’s arrest a year earlier. Raleigh police officers had caught Miller in  the back seat of a vehicle, in mid-act with a black male prostitute masquerading as a woman.
That account is buttressed by a 2013 phone conversation with Miller recorded by the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Heidi Beirich. During the call, Beirich asks him about being arrested at one point in the company of a “black transvestite.” Miller bragged that he had a “violent history of going around picking up ni**ers and beating the hell out of ‘em, particularly ni**er f**gots.” When he was arrested with the transvestite, he claimed he was planning to “whip his ass.”

April 24 2014 10:05 AM

FDA Wants to Ban E-Cigarette Sales to Minors

The FDA has proposed what would be the first regulations of the growing e-cigarette industry, including a ban on sales of the devices to minors. Reuters:

In the short term, the rule would prohibit companies from distributing free e-cigarette samples, forbid vending machine sales except in adult-only venues and prohibit sales to minors. Companies would be required to warn that nicotine is addictive, but no other health warnings would be required...The companies would not be allowed to make health claims in any advertising.

The agency did not propose any limitations on online sales, a seeming loophole for potential buyers under 18. The proposal is now open to a public-comment period; the agency would like to enact the rules within a year.

There is little data on the health effects of e-cigarettes, which create nicotine vapor rather than burning tobacco, but the New York Times reported last week that tests in a National Institutes of Health-funded study found that cells exposed to e-cigarette vapor "exhibited changes associated with cancer" in a laboratory setting.

April 23 2014 9:00 PM

Georgia Gov. Signs “Guns Everywhere” Bill Allowing Guns in Bars, Schools, and Churches

The problem in Georgia isn’t that you can’t own a gun. The problem, you see, is that once you do own a gun you can’t take it absolutely everywhere you want to. But what to do about those pesky restrictions on where you can, and cannot, pack heat? Problem solved. On Wednesday, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed a bill that doesn’t cramp gun owners’ gun-toting style so much by vastly expanding where firearms can be legally carried in the state.

House Bill 60, dubbed by critics as the “guns everywhere” bill, now allows Georgians to legally carry firearms perhaps not everywhere, but pretty close. Imagine for a second where would be the worst possible places to add guns to the mix? If you answered: bars, schools, churches, and government buildings, you could be a politician in Georgia.


Here’s more on the bill from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

The bill, which takes effect July 1, also legalizes the use of silencers for hunting, clears the way for school staffers to carry guns in school zones and lets leaders of religious congregations choose whether to allow licensed gun holders inside. And it allows permitted gun owners to carry their weapons in government buildings – including parts of courthouses – where there is no security at the entrance.

“People who follow the rules can protect themselves and their families from people who don’t follow the rules,” Deal told the AJC. “The Second Amendment should never be an afterthought. It should reside at the forefronts of our minds.” And now, at church, in the classroom and sitting at a bar, it certainly will.

In an interview with the AJC this week Deal took care to remind voters that this bill was forged with the spirit of compromise and restraint and voters “shouldn’t forget what got left out of the bill.” “Among the controversial proposals that didn’t survive were the ‘campus carry” provision, which would have legalized the carrying of guns on [college] campus, and changes that would have required houses of worship to allow guns unless leaders ban them. (Instead, religious leaders can ‘opt-in to allow guns into their congregations),” the AJC writes. Lest you thought this was a partisan problem, not a Georgia problem, according to the AJC, state Sen. Jason Carter, the democratic nominee in the governor’s race, also voted for the bill.

April 23 2014 7:40 PM

Chelsea Manning Officially Granted Name Change, but Will Still Be Treated as Male Prisoner

The Army soldier formerly known as Bradley Manning was sentenced to prison last August for the largest data breach in U.S. history. Manning, who leaked some 700,000 documents to Wikileaks while working as an intelligence analyst in Iraq in 2010, said at the time of her sentencing that she wanted to live as a woman and changed her name to Chelsea Manning. On Wednesday, a Kansas judge officially granted Manning’s name change request legally changing her name to Chelsea Elizabeth Manning. Manning will be issued a new birth certificate with her new name, Reuters reports.

The judge’s decision will allow for Manning’s military records to be changed, but, the Associated Press reports, it “doesn't compel the military to treat the soldier previously known as Bradley Edward Manning as a woman. That includes not being moved from the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, where Manning is serving a 35-year prison sentence, to a prison with a woman's unit, or receiving the counseling and hormone treatment she seeks.” The army did not oppose Manning’s petition for a name-change in court.


Manning did not appear at the hearing, which lasted only a minute or so, according to the AP, but called the ruling “an exciting day” in a statement. Manning has also petitioned the Army for hormone replacement therapy while in prison, but the military has maintained that it doesn’t provide the procedure. “Manning has filed a grievance with the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks commander at Fort Leavenworth over the lack of a response to her request for comprehensive treatment for her gender identity disorder, including specialized gender counseling and hormone replacement therapy,” the AP. reports.

April 23 2014 6:52 PM

F.C.C. Proposes New “Net Neutrality” Rules

The Federal Communications Commission is on the verge of an about face on so called “net neutrality.” On Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reported the FCC is set to put forward a proposal that would allow content companies to pay for preferential access to consumers online. The practice of allowing certain companies faster, uninterrupted access to users had been prohibited by the FCC, but a U.S. federal court of appeals recently struck down that provision forcing the FCC to rewrite its rules on net neutrality.

The new set of proposed rules, as the Wall Street Journal reports, “would prevent the service providers from blocking or discriminating against specific websites, but would allow broadband providers to give some traffic preferential treatment, so long as such arrangements are available on ‘commercially reasonable’ terms for all interested content companies. Whether the terms are commercially reasonable would be decided by the FCC on a case-by-case basis.”  That would give companies such as Netflix, Google and Facebook the ability to pay to ensure their content reaches end users ahead of others. This marks a turnaround in the FCC’s previous policy on net neutrality, which the New York Times describes as “the principle that Internet users should have equal ability to see any content they choose, and that no content providers should be discriminated against in providing their offerings to consumers.”


Here’s more on some of the concerns that arise from the changes from the Washington Post:

The draft proposal could change before it is brought to a vote next month, but it is sure to spark an outcry from consumer advocates who say the practice would give Comcast, Verizon and Time Warner Cable too much power over the experience of Web users. Another concern is that under the system being proposed by the FCC, large Web companies like Facebook and Google would have an unfair advantage over startups that can't afford to pay for priority access into U.S. homes.
The FCC's proposed rules would not allow telecom firms to block Web sites. On a case-by-case basis, the agency would watch for practices that are anti-competitive; for instance, if Verizon threatened to slow down Netflix, which competes with Verizon's Redbox Instant video and FiOS television service, the FCC could potentially weigh in. Broadband firms could begin to strike deals for preferential treatment on their networks, according to the source, as long as agreements between the firms are considered "commercially reasonable." 

April 23 2014 5:28 PM

Army Commander Who Failed to Properly Report Sexual Misconduct Now Works at the Pentagon

While Maj. Gen. Michael T. Harrison Sr. was commander of U.S. Army forces in Japan, he let what the Washington Post describes as a “pile” of sexual misconduct complaints—including “having an affair with a subordinate, of drunken and inappropriate behavior with other women at a military club and lastly, of sexual assault”—against a colonel accumulate without taking significant action. Specifically, he waited "months" to report the sexual assault allegation to investigators. When the case came to light, Harrison was suspended and found to have violated Army rules. And then:

Despite the suspension and rebuke, the Army brought Harrison back to the Pentagon to take another important position, as director of program analysis and evaluation for an Army deputy chief of staff. He received an administrative letter of reprimand in December for mishandling the sexual-assault case and other complaints, but remains on active duty.

Harrison announced his plans to retire last week, shorly before the Army released a copy of its report about his actions in response to a Post Freedom of Information Act request. His lawyer says the timing is a coincidence.

April 23 2014 5:05 PM

The Rise of the Prison-Industrial Complex in One GIF

David Mendoza aka Senator Mendoza aka The Mendoza Line aka @superchundy documents the drastic increase in imprisonment rates between 1978 and 2012 in visual form. It's like a kids' flipbook by someone who hated kids and wanted them to be depressed. Click that last link for the full experience but here's a preview:


Senator Mendoza


Senator Mendoza

And it gets even more purple-r! FWIW the national homicide rate fell considerably over the same period. Please use these two data points and your own barely-veiled racial grudges to conduct a civil and respectful debate in the comments.

April 23 2014 3:20 PM

The National Weather Service Has a Mascot Named "Owlie Skywarn" and Today it Took a Picture of Itself on the Subway

The National Weather Service has a mascot named "Owlie Skywarn" who teaches children how to be safe during severe weather. Owlie Skywarn has a Twitter account. Today Owlie took a ride on the Washington D.C. subway and posted a "selfie" picture of his...her...owlself to Twitter.


What a world. What a world. The woman on the right knows what I'm talking about.


h/t @mgold