Issue XCVI

21 OCT 2016

Local

03/28/2016

BREAKING: Nathan Deal vetoes Georgia’s ‘religious liberty’ bill

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Gov. Nathan Deal on Monday vetoed the “religious liberty” bill that triggered a wave of criticism from gay rights groups and business leaders and presented him with one of the most consequential challenges he’s faced since his election to Georgia’s top office.

In a press conference at the state Capitol, Deal said House Bill 757 doesn’t reflect Georgia’s welcoming image as a state full of “warm, friendly and loving people” – and warned critics that he doesn’t respond well to threats of payback for rejecting the measure.

“Our people work side by side without regard to the color of our skin, or the religion we adhere to. We are working to make life better for our families and our communities. That is the character of Georgia. I intend to do my part to keep it that way,” he said. “For that reason, I will veto HB 757.”

The two-term Republican has been besieged by all sides over the controversial measure, and his office has received thousands of emails and hundreds of calls on the debate. The tension was amplified by a steady stream of corporate titans who urged him to veto the bill – and threatened to pull investments from Georgia if it became law.

The governor’s veto infuriated religious conservatives who considered the measure, House Bill 757, their top priority. This is the third legislative session they’ve sought to strengthen legal protections from opponents of gay marriage, but last year’s Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex weddings galvanized their efforts.

It is also likely to herald a more acrimonious relationship between Deal, who campaigned on a pro-business platform, and the evangelical wing of the Georgia Republican party. Already, prominent conservatives have vowed to revive the measure next year.

The governor, though, had ample cover from the measure’s critics. Executives from dozens of big-name companies, including Disney, Apple, Time Warner, Intel and Salesforce, called on the governor to veto the bill. The NFL warned it could risk Atlanta’s bid for the Super Bowl and the NCAA hinted it could influence the state’s ability to host championship games. And Deal’s office said two economic development prospects have already abandoned Georgia because of the legislation.

They joined with gay rights groups who warned that the measure amounts to legalized...


Pay Attention, Christians. They’re Coming After The Churches Now.

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Pay Attention, Christians. They’re Coming After The Churches Now.

It may be a matter of some interest to you that the American left is now openly declaring its intention to shutdown your church and outlaw your religious expression entirely. If you’ve been paying attention, you won’t be terribly shocked by this revelation. They plan to come after the churches. That’s what they’ve always wanted, and now they intend to do it.

The hysterical reaction to Georgia’s religious liberty bill can be interpreted no other way. Gov. Nathan Deal has now decided — just one day after Easter, no less — to veto the bill because the outrage was so severe, and because he has the resiliency and backbone of a dead slug melting in the sun. In his statement explaining his decision,  Deal insisted that religious liberty doesn’t  include the right to “discriminate against anyone.” He took a steadfast and courageous posture, declaring that he refuses to be intimidated by “insults and threats” from pastors, nuns, and his local baptist church. On the other hand, for gay groups and large progressive corporations, he will fall to his knees in trembling submission and polish their boots after they finish kicking him repeatedly in the ribs.

On a day when we hear reports of a Catholic priest being literally crucified by Islamic State because he refused to abandon his faith, perhaps we might hope Christians in this country could at least withstand mean insults and online petitions. But we’ve learned not to expect anything — not even one minuscule, microscopic shred of bravery — from Christians like Deal. They will surrender every time, without fail.

And that’s not to downplay the pressure he faced. It was substantial, though not enough to justify his shameful capitulation. Hollywood was leading the charge, with heavy hitters like Disney, Time Warner, Starz, The Weinstein Company, AMC, Viacom, Marvel, CBS, MGM, NBC and other companies threatening to boycott if the bill passed.

The NFL got into the action, promising to bar Atlanta from hosting the Super Bowl. Meanwhile, the league hopes to expand into China in the near future, where it’s illegal for gays to be depicted on television, much less get married in real life....



11/11/2015

“Unwanted twerking” isn’t a joke: Sexual abuse charges shouldn’t make cute headlines

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A woman is arrested for 3rd-degree sexual assault against a male stranger—serious allegations, regardless of gender

It was a story tailor-made for your local 10 o’clock news show and your Facebook “trending” feed — security footage out of Washington, DC. of “Women caught on cam twerking & groping” a male stranger. As WUSA-9 reported Tuesday, 22 year-old Ayanna Marie Knight has been arrested over an October incident at a local gas station convenience store. Police say Knight has two previous arrests for prostitution. She is now charged with third-degree sexual abuse, and the other woman in the video, whom police are still searching for, faces similar charges. Those are serious allegations, regardless of the gender of the alleged perpetrator or victim.

In D.C., third degree sexual abuse involves engaging in or causing sexual contact with another person by force or other means. The charge can carry up to ten years imprisonment and $100,000 in fines. In the security footage, at least, it appears that what is happening to man fits that description. He is standing behind one of the women near the checkout and talking on the phone when she backs up on him and begins to twerk. Then the other woman approaches him and grabs his crotch. She persistently touches him, appearing to try to take his phone away, aggressively putting her arm around him — and she keeps coming even as he repeatedly moves away from her.

The man says he explicitly told both the women to stop. The man — who has withheld his name — told NBC News Washington Tuesday that “I was assaulted sexually. I felt 100 percent violated. I felt really humiliated also.” He adds, “The two cashiers that were at the station just sat there. I asked them to help, they said, ‘What do you want us to do?’ I’m saying, ‘Call the police.'”

At one point in the video, you can see another patron walk past the man, paying no apparent attention, all while the victim’s trying to fend off the woman. He says the women then followed him outside the station and tried to stop him from calling the cops.

Many women face a regular barrage of unwanted physical contact, especially in crowded cities and in confined public transportation spaces. They’re grabbed on London buses and groped in Yankee stadium and felt up while they’re sleeping on airplanes. It’s such a commonplace event it rarely makes the evening news. And when the...


Woman Arrested for Sexual Abuse After Twerking on Stranger in D.C. Store

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As a proponent of gender-blind law, I understand why D.C. police must take the incident seriously. And yet...

A Las Vegas woman has been arrested for sexual assault after she and a friend twerked up against and groped at a male stranger in a D.C. convenience store. One of the women also put her arms around him and attempted to kiss him. On Monday, the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department released video footage of the October 7 incident and offered a $1,000 reward for anyone who could offer info leading to the women's apprehension. On Tuesday, they announced that 22-year-old Ayanna Marie Knight had been arrested and charged with third-degree sexual abuse. If convicted, Knight could face a fine of up to $25,000 and up to 10 years in prison. 

In D.C., the offense of third-degree sexual abuse is defined as "engag[ing] in or caus[ing] sexual contact with or by another person" via force, threats, or rendering the individual unconscious.

"The search for the other woman in the video continues," DCist reports. Police have since pulled video of the incident—captured by a surveillance camera inside the Shell gas-station store—from the department's YouTube channel, but you can watch it here

In an interview with D.C.'s local Fox News network, the man in the video—a D.C. teacher who wishes to remain anonymous—suggested that the women may have been trying to solicit him for prostitution or steal his wallet, and also that they might have been "men dressed like women." Regardless, "when someone is just grabbing your body parts without your permission, no matter who it is, that's just a violation completely," he told NBC Washington. 

The women's behavior in the video is certainly strange, and marginally agressive. They're also relatively small in comparison to the victim. It's tempting to say he should have just pushed them away—although one can also imagine hefeared being branded an assailant if he did so. As to why he didn't just exit the store: eventually he did, and the women followed, continuing to watch and flash him from a distance as he pumped his gas and called police. 

As a proponent of gender-blind law, I understand why D.C. police are obligated to take this incident seriously. And certainly men have as much of a right as women not to be grabbed at by strangers in public. Yet something about the whole business rubs me the wrong way nonetheless. We don't know what the aim of Knight and...



10/23/2015

Ole Miss students are all smiles after arrest for allegedly hazing fraternity member

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Police arrested five Ole Miss fraternity brothers last week for an alleged hazing attack that sent another student to the hospital. 

With charges ranging from larceny to hazing to felony assault, Tucker Cole Steil, James Declan Basile, Christian Guy, Kyle Hughes, and Austin Rice (reportedly all Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity brothers) were arrested after an Oct. 6 incident on campus that left Sigma Pi fraternity member Jeremy Boyle with several injuries, including a concussion, broken teeth and a ruptured eardrum, according to The Clarion-Ledger. 

"It was shocking," said Boyle's father, Brian, according to Ole Miss student newspaper, The Daily Mississippian. "There is a different culture in the South. People have good behavior. It's not something you would have expected. Especially at Ole Miss."

According to a mostly redacted incident report obtained by The C-L, Steil is the only Ole Miss student facing felony charges reported as "Hands, fists, feet, etc. Aggravated injury." Basile's alleged involvement was reported as "Simple assault, causing bodily injury. Hazing. Petit Larceny less than $1000." 


Frat bros arrested for nearly beating man to death, smile like psychos in mugshots

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A group of frat bros at Ole Miss produced some of the more disturbing mug shots in recent memory following their arrest for the brutal assault of another student.

According to WFLA, Tucker Steil, James Basile, Christian Guy, Kyle Hughes, and Austin Rice, of the Pi Kappa Alpha frat, allegedly snuck into rival fraternity house Sigma Pi on the night of October 6 and beat up a kid named Jeremy Boyle. From the sound of it, it was pretty brutal:

“Concussion, broken ear drum, broken teeth,” Boyle’s grandfather Robert Boyle told WMC, the NBC affiliate in Memphis, TN. Boyle said his grandson also suffered a bruised lung, bruised ribs and a bruised groin.

“They descended upon him and beat him unmercifully. Beat him within an inch of his life,” Boyle said.

Because this was a simple assault and not a sexual one, the matter was referred to the police, who are charging them with a number of serious things. Via The Clarion-Ledger:

According to the report, “One misdemeanor is for hazing, for which the university has a zero tolerance policy. Tucker Cole Steil, a general studies major, was arrested on a felony-level charge of assault. James Declan Basile, a business student, was arrested on charges of assault, hazing and larceny. Christian Guy and Kyle Hughes, business majors, were arrested on charges of larceny. Austin Rice, an engineering major, was arrested on charges of larceny as well.”

And yet, to look at the mug shots, four out of five Pi Kappa Alpha dudes agree that it was totes worth it, brah. (The fifth seems a touch ambivalent.) It’s almost like the violent dystopia depicted in A Clockwork Orange has come true, minus the cool style and tasteful soundtrack.



09/15/2015

News LIVE: Fatal Hildale flood; 8 dead, 5 remain missing – updated 6:50 a.m.

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HILDALE – Eight people are confirmed dead, three have been rescued and five remain unaccounted for after a wall of water swept two vehicles downstream in a flash flood in Hildale Monday afternoon.

Victim count remains the same with eight deceased and recovered, three survivors and five missing as of 6 a.m. Tuesday morning, according to Washington County Emergency Services.

Additional searcher personnel to be added to the effort Tuesday morning. The public is asked to remain away from the area to allow public safety to work unimpeded.

Washington County Emergency Services reported about 12:50 a.m. Tuesday that the location of an additional deceased victim has been found, bringing those killed in this incident to eight.

“The search is currently being scaled back due to safety concerns,” officials said via a Facebook page update. Search efforts are being scaled back for the night due to safety concerns. A full-scale search will resume at 7 a.m. Tuesday.

Earlier, Chief Kevin Barlow with the Hildale-Colorado City Fire Department said:

At about 4 and 5 o’clock we had a thunderstorm come over town and hit the canyons above us extremely hard. We had multiple different rescues of stranded vehicles at the crossing, but the most significant incident we’re aware of is two occupied vehicles were hit by a wall of water on Canyon Street and they were carried downstream in a flood channel and there were 16 people in those vehicles – there were 16 people in those vehicles between those two vehicles – three have been rescued alive, six confirmed fatalities, and seven remain unaccounted for. 

The occupants of the vehicles ranged from three adult ladies to children around the age of 4 years old, Barlow said. Barlow was unable to identify which among them had died, were found or yet missing.

“This water (that) caught them unawares came out of Maxwell Canyon,” Barlow said. “It’s just above the confluence where it joins Short Creek – they’re actually in the Short Creek Channel but they were washed there ….”

Three surviving victims, one was transported to Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George for treatment, and six people are still missing as of the 11:20 p.m. update.

Emergency responders from Hildale, Colorado City, Hurricane, Washington County Sheriff’s Office and Search and Rescue, Mohave County, and...


Utah Town of Hildale, Ravaged by Floods, is Home to Secretive FLDS Sect

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The little Utah town where at least eight people were killed in a flash flood is the home of a polygamist religious sect whose leader was sentenced to life in prison for sexually assaulting girls he considered brides.

The town of Hildale, a 3-square-mile patch of land along the Arizona state line, is the headquarters of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, which split from the Mormon Church a century ago.

On Monday night, a strong thunderstorm caused a flood that sluiced through the canyons north of town and killed at least eight people and left five more missing. It was described as a wall of water so strong that it swept away a van and an SUV carrying 16 people in all. Three were rescued.

"This hit with a vengeance we haven't seen for some time," said Kevin Barlow, the assistant fire chief.

The 8,000 people who live in Hildale and next-door Colorado City, Arizona, are split between defectors from the FLDS sect and loyalists to Warren Jeffs, the former leader.

The sect, which is believed to have about 10,000 followers, believes that plural marriage is a path to exaltation in heaven — and that Jeffs, now 59, is God's earthly spokesman.

In 2008, police raided an FLDS compound in West Texas and placed more than 400 children in protective custody. Authorities discovered pregnant underage girls during the raid.

In August 2011, Jeffs was given the life sentence for sexually assaulting an underage follower he had taken as a bride. He was given an additional 20-year sentence for assaulting a 15-year-old girl. DNA evidence showed he had fathered a child with her.

Jeffs, now 59, maintained that he was a victim of religious persecution.

A profile of Hildale published by The Associated Press earlier this year described the town as a patchwork of upscale homes and unfinished houses where construction was stopped in the early 2000s, when Jeffs ordered that the sect focus on building the Texas compound.

Women and girls can still be seen in home-sewn prairie dresses around town. A photo from the flood on Monday showed women in the ankle-length dresses joining hands to escape the waters.

From prison in 2010, Jeffs ordered his followers to build him a new compound in Hildale, meant to house him after his eventual acquittal and release. Jeffs' former bodyguard bought it in 2013 and turned it into a bed and breakfast.



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