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Current location: Virginia
Member since: Wed Jun 1, 2011, 07:34 PM
Number of posts: 6,746

About Me

Navy brat-->University fac brat. All over-->Wisconsin-->TN-->VA. RN (ret), married, grandmother of 11. Progressive since birth. My mouth may be foul but my heart is wide open.

Journal Archives

Mom sues Alabama youth facility where son died by suicide to escape 'living hell'

The mother of a 15-year-old Alabama boy who died days after sustaining self-inflicted injuries at a youth psychiatric treatment facility claims in a wrongful death lawsuit that her son was trapped in “a living hell” — but his pleas for help were ignored.

Connor Bennett, who died in April, was held for about six months at a former Sequel TSI facility in Tuskegee, a place the lawsuit, filed Wednesday in the Circuit Court of Macon County, describes as “scary and dangerous despite being a place for the most vulnerable and troubled children.”

“The facility was a living hell for Connor,” the lawsuit states, adding that “violence was rampant” and there was “little to no supervision.”

“As a result, on numerous occasions, Connor was horrifically brutalized sexually, physically, and emotionally by other residents,” the lawsuit states. “He was living an unimaginable nightmare and always feared for his safety.”

Bennett, according to the complaint, “suffered from behavioral issues” that prompted the Alabama Department of Human Resources (DHR) to take custody of him in September 2021. A month later, he was dispatched to the Tuskegee facility.

The facility, which started operations in 1998, describes itself as a residential treatment facility that provides “comprehensive, challenging, and therapeutic services for adolescent males ages 12 to 18. Boys are assigned to the program by the Alabama Department of Youth Services following a court decision. It has since been rebranded under the name Brighter Path.


Her attorney said in a statement that the Tuskegee facility and facilities like it are a part of the “troubled teen industry,” a multibillion-dollar network of for-profit youth residential facilities where widespread abuse and neglect have been revealed. I can believe that.

Are Trump's Passports the FBI's Smoking Gun?

Barbara McQuade

When the FBI searched former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence earlier this month, they didn’t find a smoking gun, but they did find some smoldering passports.

On August 8, agents removed from Trump’s home 33 boxes of sensitive government documents, including more than 100 records classified at the highest levels. In a 36-page brief responding to Trump’s motion to appoint a special master to review the material seized by the FBI, the Justice Department explained that three of the classified documents were recovered from Trump’s private office, known as “the 45 Office.”

According to DOJ’s recent brief, classified documents in that office were “commingled” in a desk drawer with three passports. While the government did not disclose the name on the passports, Trump himself has complained that during the search, the FBI “stole” his three passports. It seems a safe bet that the passports DOJ recovered were Trump’s.

The significance of the passports is enormous. As DOJ explained in an understated footnote, “The location of the passports is relevant evidence in an investigation of unauthorized retention and mishandling of national defense information.”

In other words, the presence of the passports in the same drawer as the classified records tends to tie the unauthorized possession of these documents to Trump himself. A photo included with the filing shows the items that were recovered from his office. Among the classification markings on the documents are “Top Secret,” meaning that the disclosure of the material could cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security of the United States.


Confiscating his passports could be the best move ever.

'I Was Lied to': A Nightmare Trip on TX Guv's Bus Sideshow

Evarist Meléndez has not had a particularly relaxing summer.

Beginning last month, the 30-year-old and eight other men left their home country of Venezuela to seek asylum in the United States. That meant crossing Colombia’s Gulf of Urabá to the Darién Gap, a perilous, often deadly stretch of rainforest, mountains, and jungle that divides Central and South America. They traveled by motorcycle, car, train, and foot. They spent seven days walking in the jungle, made their way through Panamá, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, and eventually arrived at the Río Grande, in México, where they swam through rip currents to get to Texas.

But rather than finding relief when he had finally made it, Meléndez said, arriving in Texas led him down a fresh path of frustration, treachery, and downright fear. And when he spoke with The Daily Beast around 6:30 a.m. on Saturday, sitting inside the Port Authority bus terminal in Manhattan, he was furious.

After all, New York City was not where he wanted to go, and not where he thought he would end up. But a nakedly political scheme by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to bus migrants from the border to so-called sanctuary cities like New York—and thus somehow expose the Biden administration’s border policies—left him destitute.

“We were told that there would be voluntary stops, but we passed through Virginia and the bus didn’t stop,” Meléndez told The Daily Beast in Spanish, explaining that he had wanted to go to Richmond, where his cousins live and were expecting him.

“I was lied to,” he added, before opining: “They even said the train ticket from here to Virginia would be $17. Now, here, I’m told that there’s no train to head over there; others tell me the bus costs $80. Now I’m in a worse place than I was before. I feel cheated.”


I probably need to go to confession for the homicidal thoughts I'm having today.

How Jackson, Mississippi, ran out of water

By Benji Jones

The water system in Jackson, Mississippi, the state’s capital and largest city, failed earlier this week.

On Tuesday, most of the city’s 150,000 residents were without safe drinking water, prompting the state’s Republican governor, Tate Reeves, to declare a state of emergency. He warned that there wasn’t enough running water “to fight fires, to reliably flush toilets, and to meet other critical needs.” It’s not clear when the city will have safe drinking water again, Reeves said.

On the surface, the apparent cause of this crisis is damaged infrastructure: Recent flooding strained the city’s largest water treatment plant, O.B. Curtis, which was already dogged with problems. Plus, there was another issue with water pumps at a secondary treatment facility known as J.H. Fewell. As a result, many of the city’s water towers remain nearly empty, leaving the system without enough water or water pressure to fill pipes in homes, schools, and businesses.

But the roots of this crisis run much deeper, and are inextricably tied to white disinvestment from a majority-Black city. Jackson’s water system — which serves a population that is more than 80 percent Black — has been burdened with problems for many years, largely because white flight drained the city of resources. The state’s Republican legislature has also failed to provide the majority-Democrat city with adequate funding for repairs.

“Ideally, infrastructure serves as a shared foundation for economic, environmental, and public health between different neighborhoods and municipalities,” scholars at the Brookings Institution, a nonprofit research group, wrote in March 2021, after Jackson faced another severe water shortage. “However, infrastructure is often poorly maintained or intentionally overlooked in particular places, leading to a lack of access, affordability, and safety for many communities of color.”


IOW, straight-up racism. And you can bet that when the money comes from the feds, Tater Reeves and his Republigoons will find a way to steal it.

Tiny survivor

Tonight while working the foster pet clinic (and doing a little double duty for the regular clinic manager in the kitten nursery) I heard an unholy high-pitched screeching in the Cat Intake room. I had just been in there and no one was there except a young cream and white cat who squeaked rather than meowing and a gray cat who hadn't opened its mouth at all.

What it was, was the tiniest blue-cream kitten imaginable--old enough to have its eyes wide open and scramble around--letting everyone know that she was here and she was HUNGRY and in need of attention NOW! I took her out of the kennel and she was momentarily quiet when I held her over my heart, but when she realized I didn't have anything for her to eat she resumed scrambling and screeching. I finally made her a little more comfortable in a carrier rather than a kennel, with a warmer and a blanket, but she never stopped hollering. What she lacked in size, she made up for in volume!

She had been found by someone on a Clayton mobile home lot, in the insulation of one of the homes, with her siblings. She was the only survivor. No sign of the mother. The person didn't know what to do with her, so they brought her to us. Thank goodness. The foster coordinator and I did her intake check; she's healthy and weighed half a pound, so she'd eaten recently anyway. She got a tiny dose of worm medicine. About that time the foster showed up. I suggested that this tiny one needed a warrior's name, perhaps Brunnhilde or something, since she was such a survivor. I'm just sorry I didn't get a picture before she left!

NBC's 'Meet the Press' Shakeup Puts Chuck Todd in Jeopardy

The executive producer of Meet the Press, who NBC announced last week is ”shifting” over to the streaming side, was pushed out amid the Sunday politics show’s ratings woes, two people familiar with the matter told Confider.

John Reiss, who had been EP for the last eight years, was officially punted over to the NBC News Now streaming service, and David P. Gelles, a long-time CNN producer who helped develop the now-defunct CNN+ streamer, was parachuted in to help fix the sinking show, which is down 21 percent in total viewership and 24 percent in the key advertising demographic compared to last year—more than any of the other Sunday politics shows.

Gelles’ first order of business, multiple sources said, is deciding what to do about Chuck Todd, who despite recently signing a two-year extension, as Confider has learned, has baffled many at NBC with how long he’s remained atop the struggling show.

NBC White House correspondent Kristen Welker is being groomed to replace Todd, multiple insiders with knowledge of the matter said, and is expected to take on more hosting duties as the midterm elections approach.


Right up there with Andrea Mitchell retiring!

Prosecute Trump -- it will lower the heated political temperature

Amanda Marcotte, Salon

As shown by his efforts to steal the 2020 election, once he's all out of lies and deflections, Donald Trump turns to blatant threats of violence.

The January 6 committee carefully laid it out. Trump called on his insurrectionist mob to attack the Capitol after every effort to steal the election through the courts and state legislatures fell apart. The use of terroristic violence didn't work on that day, but, over a year and a half later, we can see Trump hasn't abandoned the hope that it might work with the criminal investigation into why he stole state secrets and refused to give them back when caught. This time, Trump is deploying his typical strategies of nuisance lawsuits and favor-trading to evade justice.

Appealing to a judge he appointed, Trump is trying to gum up the works by demanding a "special master" to adjudicate the question of whether he gets to hang on to classified documents he illegally took from the government and refused to give back, triggering a raid by the FBI to retrieve them. It's a tactic that relies less on any plain reading of the law and more on Trump's usual tactics of delaying justice until he figures out a way to escape its grasp entirely.

Trump is leveraging the fears of another January 6 — or worse — in hopes that it will intimidate law enforcement into backing down.

But, in a sign that he — and his ragtag team made up of the only lawyers left who will represent him — isn't feeling super hot about his legal case, Trump has already turned towards prepping his army of well-armed burnouts to threaten violence if the feds don't back down.

Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Trump's most thoroughly owned Republican senator, went on TV to make the threat, declaring, "there'll be riots in the streets" if Trump is prosecuted. In this, he was just imitating Trump's usual mob-style method of making threats by pretending they're "predictions" instead of the obvious call to arms they actually are. Trump, of course, immediately endorsed the threat by posting the video on his likely soon-to-be-bankrupt Truth Social network. He even embedded the threat in a court motion by reiterating a threat made earlier this month to Attorney General Merrick Garland: "The heat is building up. The pressure is building up."


The first private mission to Venus will have just five minutes to hunt for life

As the covid pandemic raged in late 2020, all eyes turned briefly from our troubled planet to our planetary neighbor Venus. Astronomers had made a startling detection in its cloud tops: a gas called phosphine that on Earth is created through biological processes. Speculation ran wild as scientists struggled to understand what they were seeing.

Now, a mission due to be launched next year could finally begin to answer the question that has excited astronomers ever since: Could microbial life be belching out the gas?

Although later studies questioned the detection of phosphine, the initial study reignited interest in Venus. In its wake, NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) selected three new missions to travel to the planet and investigate, among other questions, whether its conditions could have supported life in the past. China and India, too, have plans to send missions to Venus. “Phosphine reminded everybody how poorly characterized [this planet] was,” says Colin Wilson at the University of Oxford, one of the deputy lead scientists on Europe’s Venus mission, EnVision.

But the bulk of those missions would not return results until later in the 2020s or into the 2030s. Astronomers wanted answers now. As luck would have it, so did Peter Beck, the CEO of the New Zealand­–based launch company Rocket Lab. Long fascinated by Venus, Beck was contacted by a group of MIT scientists about a bold mission that could use one of the company’s rockets to hunt for life on Venus much sooner—with a launch in 2023. (A backup launch window is available in January 2025.)

Phosphine or no, scientists think that if life does exist on Venus, it might be in the form of microbes inside tiny droplets of sulfuric acid that float high above the planet. While the surface appears largely inhospitable, with temperatures hot enough to melt lead and pressures similar to those at the bottom of Earth’s oceans, conditions about 45 to 60 kilometers above the ground in the clouds of Venus are significantly more temperate.

“I’ve always felt that Venus has got a hard rap,” says Beck. “The discovery of phosphine was the catalyst. We need to go to Venus to look for life.”


My inner 10-year-old is just geeking out all over the place lately!

Henrico non-profit repairs cars for those in need

One unique Central Virginia non-profit is helping people get their cars repaired and back on the road, for not even a dime out of their pockets.

The organization’s employees and volunteers work out of the backyard of New Life Baptist Church in Henrico.

Mechanics of Faith has helped a little over 70 people this year so far, either by donating a car to them or making hundreds of dollars of repairs on their car, for free. One of those people, Erik Bennett, said his car wasn’t running as well as it is now a few months back, until now.

“I’m a single dad and I’m on a fixed income and I had some car repairs that need to be done and I reached out all over and I couldn’t get anybody to help me,” he explained.

That’s where Mechanics of Faith stepped in, performing what could’ve been hundreds of dollars of repairs, and charging not even one penny.

“Now I can, you know, get my daughter to softball practice, get to doctors’ appointments,” Bennett smiled.


I don't know about you, but I needed some good news to start my day.

'Clinically awful': why the pain of a broken heart is real

In the winter of 2004, women started arriving at Japanese hospitals complaining of chest pains and a shortness of breath. It was a month since a major earthquake had shaken the country, causing mudslides in the mountains, injuring 4,805 people and killing 68. In emergency rooms, doctors hooked the women up to ECG monitors, and saw the same extreme changes they’d expect with heart attacks. But subsequent tests showed their coronary arteries weren’t blocked, as they would be by a heart attack. Instead, their hearts had changed shape. It didn’t take long for these cases to be diagnosed as takotsubo cardiomyopathy, or “broken heart syndrome”.

Heartbreak is not simply a metaphor. Today, up to 7% of all sudden cardiac hospital admissions in Japan are diagnosed as takotsubo, when stress hormones after a traumatic event have caused a weakening of the left ventricle, meaning it can no longer pump effectively – for a while, it gives up. It hurts. And it clearly shows the link between the stresses happening in a person’s life, whether an earthquake or the end of a relationship, and their heart.

This understanding is one of the things that’s leading to heartbreak being taken seriously in a way it never has been before. There have been pop songs about heartbreak, of course. There have been novels and films and many thousands of poems, but now, after years of concentrating simplyon the process of falling in love, scientists are starting to look at the end of love, too. Today there are books that unpick the science of heartbreak and memoirs detailing the messy, sticky truth of it, and an “intensive care” retreat for heartbroken women to heal in a very nice hotel in the Peak District. All newly seeking to understand this slow torture. “Romance’s estranged cousin,” wrote Rachel Cusk in her 2012 divorce memoir, “a cruel character, all sleeplessness and adrenaline unsweetened by hope.”

Annie Lord’s heartbreak arrived one evening on Euston Road, London, when her boyfriend said he needed “to be alone”. Her memoir Notes on Heartbreak evolved from a long love letter she wrote to him afterwards, but never sent. To explore her pain, she returns to memories of the relationship, finding a kind of solace in the realisation that in order to get over her boyfriend she doesn’t have to forget him altogether. She remembers, she tells me, looking out of the window and finding it impossible to accept that most people she saw had gone through this agony. How was the world still functioning? In A Grief Observed, about the loss of his wife, CS Lewis says grief feels like suspense, “It comes from the frustration of so many impulses that had become habitual.” Reading that, Lord recognised the sensation: she was waiting for something that would never come. “For him to come around the corner asking where the towels were or to feel his leg hit me in bed . Knowing others had gone through something similar I felt less alone with my experiences.”


One of my friends suffered from this for months following the death of her husband. A new doctor finally diagnosed her symptoms and told her that yes, her pain WAS real.
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