Politics and the game of chicken, pinkwashing, the commute on Mars, lost in a maze, and the death of Frank Kameny.
1) THE NEW ART OF POLITICS
In Topeka, Kansas it's no longer a crime to beat up your spouse. Forget about whether that's right or not; it's all about money. Everything's about money now in Topeka and practically everywhere else. Right and wrong takes a back seat to money. The effort to decriminalize domestic violence started with a dispute over who should prosecute and pay for prosecuting people accused of misdemeanor cases of domestic violence.
The City Council couldn't figure out what to do so last night it made misdemeanor domestic violence not a crime. It was a tactical move to force the district attorney to prosecute people under state law, at state expense. The state? It's broke.
Eighteen people have been arrested for domestic violence since September and released without charges because no agency is accepting new cases in the city. That's 18 people who might have retaliation in mind against the person who had them arrested in the first place. That's the way domestic violence works, and the way it escalates from misdemeanor to something more serious that would still be prosecuted.
"Ethical and practical considerations required that we stop filing new criminal cases that we knew would have to be dismissed shortly once budget cuts were instituted and we no longer had the necessary personnel to prosecute these newly filed cases," the DA wrote yesterday.
Neither side thought the other side would actually let misdemeanor domestic violence become legal -- it was a game of chicken, the new "art" of politics. But make your budgetary stand with domestic violence instead of say, shoplifting or marijuana possession?
"Let's think about the message we're sending here," one level-headed member of the city council said.
"I absolutely do not understand it," Rita Smith, executive director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said after the vote. "It's really outrageous that they're playing with family safety to see who blinks first. People could die while they're waiting to straighten this out."
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
2) PINK WASHING
Right on schedule the debate over whether companies are trying to make a buck off women's breast cancer has begun anew. If you're getting something in return for your charity, is that charity? The Associated Press today looks at some of the "pink" merchandising taking place during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Like this baby:
"A portion of the proceeds will go to a breast cancer awareness charity," Smith & Wesson says.
"At one time, pink was the means," a spokeswoman for Breast Cancer Action told the AP. "Now, it's almost become the end in itself. In its most simplistic forms, pink has become a distraction. You put a pink ribbon on it, people stop asking questions."
The group just released this video:
"Research doesn't come cheap. We need to raise money and we're not apologetic about it," Leslie Aun, a spokeswoman for Susan G. Komen for the Cure, told the Associated Press.
3) THE MARTIAN COMMUTE
What were you doing between September 2008 and this past August? NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity was making a 13-mile trip from Victoria crater to Endeavour crater. Yesterday, NASA released a video with each picture taken on a day the rover was moving.
It shows the rim of Endeavour becoming visible on the horizon partway through the journey and growing larger as Opportunity neared that goal. The drive included detours, as Opportunity went around large expanses of treacherous terrain along the way.
The rover team also produced a sound track for the video, using each drive day's data from Opportunity's accelerometers. The low-frequency data has been sped up 1,000 times to yield audible frequencies.
"The sound represents the vibrations of the rover while moving on the surface of Mars," said Paolo Bellutta, a rover planner at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., who has plotted many of Opportunity's drives and coordinated production of the video. "When the sound is louder, the rover was moving on bedrock. When the sound is softer, the rover was moving on sand."
4) A MAZE ING
Those corn mazes that have become all the rage? They can turn you into the person who has to call 911 to be rescued from one. Just ask the couple in Massachusetts who got lost in a corn maze when it closed and it got dark. We don't know who they are, however. The police aren't saying.
"I just can't believe they didn't send anyone to come and check on anybody, the people that run this," the 42-year-old husband said in a call to 911. "They close at six. We're the only ones in here."
Here's advice on getting out of a corn maze: Walk in a straight line through the corn until you end up somewhere. This couple apparently kept trying to walk through the maze.
5) ICONS: FRANK KAMENY
Frank Kameny was fired by the U.S. Civil Service Commission in the '50s because he was gay. He had already been fired for the same reason by the Army. His lawsuit, which failed, was the first claim of civil rights in this country on the basis of sexual orientation. Someone had to be the first.
Kameny died yesterday, on National Coming Out Day.
U.S. officials announced Tuesday that they had thwarted a plot by Iranian terrorists to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States. The announcement said that the Iranian government was involved in the plot to kill the ambassador and bomb the Saudi Embassy. Today's Question: How should the U.S. government respond to the alleged Iranian terrorist plot?
TODAY ON THE "BIG STORY" BLOG: The Vikings stadium debate.
WHAT WE'RE DOING
It's the beginning of an MPR membership drive. Some of these are rebroadcasts.
Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) - First hour: Excerpts from conversations with authors Justin Cronin, Daniel Wilson, and Glen Duncan about their literary takes on vampires, robots, and werewolves.
Second hour: Horror, science fiction and fantasy books have long been popular, but now an increasing number of novelists known for literary fiction are getting in on the act. Is it a recognition of the sales potential, or of a desire by writers to explore different genres?
Midday (11 a.m. - 1 p.m.) - First hour: Political strategists Todd Rapp and Maureen Shaver discuss politics.
Second hour: Syndicated columnist Mark Shields, speaking at St. John's University about civility in politics.
Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) - First hour: Political talk with Ken Rudin, NPR's "Political Junkie."
Second hour: Known as the "great and infamous whore," Mary Boleyn's story has been overshadowed by the life and grisly death of her more famous sister, Anne. But Mary, the mistress to the King of France as well as Henry VIII, left a legacy of her own, and finally chose, a poor but honest life with the man she loved. Guest: Alison Weir.
All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - For years, Lonni Sue Johnson drew iconic covers for The New Yorker magazine. That is, until 2007, when her artwork stopped as a virus began consuming her brain. Eventually, she was able to create art in a different way. NPR will have her story.
In defense of the people who got stuck in the corn maze, plenty of studies have shown that walking in a straight line with no discernible reference point is not something humans are good at. They could easily walk in circles in the corn instead of in the maze.
This is not a Minnesota corn maze, though. This is Danvers, which is like getting lost in a 7 acre field in Bloomington.
The reference would be the roar of the cars on the highway nearby. Or the lights.
The best way to walk in circles in that environment, is to keep walking on the pathways of the maze.
I get so sick of the pink washing that happens at this time of year. Companies can't possibly be donating a significant percentage of total sales to breast cancer research. More likely they're jumping on a bandwagon of trying to look like they're doing a good deed, while also trying to appeal to women for things women may not normally buy. "Why yes, I do want a pink handgun, the pink color appeals to my simple lady brain."
I'm not saying that we don't need breast cancer research. Of course I've had family members survive breast cancer. But let's not forget that breast cancer isn't even the #1 killer of women. It's heart disease. But I guess hearts aren't as sexy or marketable as breasts.
So we should boycott Topeka? I was planning a trip there in late spring.
And does anyone know the difference between a Felony wife beating and a misdemeanor one?
"When the sound is louder, the rover was moving on bedrock. When the sound is softer, the rover was moving on sand."
and what does it sound like when the rover goes through leaves?
//between a Felony wife beating and a misdemeanor one?
Here's the state statute:
21-3412a. Domestic battery. (a) Domestic battery is:
(1) intentionally or recklessly causing bodily harm by a family or household member against a family or household member; or
(2) intentionally causing physical contact with a family or household member by a family or household member when done in a rude, insulting or angry manner.
(a) (1) Upon a first conviction of a violation of domestic battery, a person shall be guilty of a class B person misdemeanor and sentenced to not less than 48 consecutive hours nor more than six months' imprisonment and fined not less than $200, nor more than $500 or in the court's discretion the court may enter an order which requires the person enroll in and successfully complete a domestic violence prevention program.
(b) If, within five years immediately preceding commission of the crime, a person is convicted of a violation of domestic battery a second time, such person shall be guilty of a class A person misdemeanor and sentenced to not less than 90 days nor more than one year's imprisonment and fined not less than $500 nor more than $1,000. The five days' imprisonment mandated by this subsection may be served in a work release program only after such person has served 48 consecutive hours' imprisonment, provided such work release program requires such person to return to confinement at the end of each day in the work release program. The person convicted must serve at least five consecutive days' imprisonment before the person is granted probation, suspension or reduction of sentence or parole or is otherwise released. As a condition of any grant of probation, suspension of sentence or parole or of any other release, the person shall be required to enter into and complete a treatment program for domestic violence prevention.
(3) If, within five years immediately preceding commission of the crime, a person is convicted of a violation of domestic battery a third or subsequent time, such person shall be guilty of a person felony and sentenced to not less than 90 days nor more than one year's imprisonment and fined not less than $1,000 nor more than $2,500. The person convicted shall not be eligible for release on probation, suspension or reduction of sentence or parole until the person has served at least 90 days' imprisonment. The court may also require as a condition of parole that such person enter into and complete a treatment program for domestic violence. The 90 days' imprisonment mandated by this subsection may be served in a work release program only after such person has served 48 consecutive hours' imprisonment, provided such work release program requires such person to return to confinement at the end of each day in the work release program.
(1) Family or household member means persons 18 years of age or older who are spouses, former spouses, parents or stepparents and children or stepchildren, and persons who are presently residing together or who have resided together in the past, and persons who have a child in common regardless of whether they have been married or who have lived together at any time. Family or household member also includes a man and woman if the woman is pregnant and the man is alleged to be the father, regardless of whether they have been married or have lived together at any time; and
(2) for the purpose of determining whether a conviction is a first, second, third or subsequent conviction in sentencing under this section:
(a) "Conviction" includes being convicted of a violation of this section or entering into a diversion or deferred judgment agreement in lieu of further criminal proceedings on a complaint alleging a violation of this section;
(b) "conviction" includes being convicted of a violation of a law of another state, or an ordinance of any city, or resolution of any county, which prohibits the acts that this section prohibits or entering into a diversion or deferred judgment agreement in lieu of further criminal proceedings in a case alleging a violation of such law, ordinance or resolution;
(c) only convictions occurring in the immediately preceding five years including prior to the effective date of this act shall be taken into account, but the court may consider other prior convictions in determining the sentence to be imposed within the limits provided for a first, second, third or subsequent offender, whichever is applicable; and
(d) it is irrelevant whether an offense occurred before or after conviction for a previous offense.
the question I have at this point is if a "felony" is based on the number of misdemeanors you have, how can you prosecute something as a felony if you're not prosecuting them as misdemeanors?
Re: Prosecuting Domestic Violence
This is what happens when all of government is deemed "waste, fraud, and abuse".
What is it going to take before sensible Republicans start telling the Tea Party that there is a level of taxation that is appropriate and necessary and that the number is greater than 0?
When will the Democrats start relentlessly and loudly making this case with specific examples such as these?
When will the 'Christians' turn their political attention from the bedroom to social justice issues actually addressed by Christ, like those faced by the poor and downtrodden?
In political science parlance, when a State is unable to protect it's citizens, it is said to be Failed. We tend to think of a Somalia, and many would argue that Mexico now fits the definition. What nightmare are we living in that it's now Kansas?
I have lived in places where the police and the legal system don't protect the citizenry. Eventually, people get fed up and take the law into their own hands. It can get pretty ugly.
How much of a coincidence is it that the pink handgun story immediately follows the domestic violence story?
Also, based on the statute, you can beat your girlfriend (or boyfriend) as long as you don't live together. Or maybe there is a more harsher law if you beat your girlfriend if you don't live with her that is still being prosecuted.
And yes, basically since they are no longer prosecuting misdemeanor domestic abuse, there is no way for someone to be charged with felony domestic abuse.
Wouldn't just decriminalizing drugs be a lot easier? At least it is an almost victimless crime.
Just heard someone from the city of Topeka on MPR. It is still a crime to beat up your spouse in Topeka. It is just no longer both a city and state crime. Now it is just a state crime. And the county attorney was on MPR saying they will now prosecute people who beat up their spouse.