Saturday, November 16, 2013

Remember Trayvon Martin


Gun Tragedies Without End

The latest woeful lesson in gun mayhem is playing out in Michigan, where a 54-year-old man in Dearborn Heights was charged Friday with second-degree murder in the shotgun slaying of a 19-year-old woman presumed to have knocked on his door in the middle of the night, seeking help after a traffic accident.
The Wayne County prosecutor, Kym Worthy, discounted claims that the man, Theodore Wafer, was within the bounds of the self-defense law, which requires his sensing a grave and imminent threat. There was no sign of forced entry and the victim, Renisha McBride, stood on the porch when she was hit in the face by a shot fired through the locked screen door of Mr. Wafer’s house, the prosecutor said.
Although there is speculation that Ms. McBride, who was black, was a victim of racial profiling by Mr. Wafer, who is white, Ms. Worthy said, “race is not relevant.” Neither was Ms. McBride’s state of intoxication a factor in the charges, the prosecutor added. Police said Mr. Wafer claimed he thought someone was trying to break in and the shooting was accidental after he opened the main front door to investigate. That doesn’t explain why he did not call 911 or why he opened the door with a shotgun in hand.
Whatever the outcome of the case, the tragic death of Ms. McBride was another symptom of a gun culture where private citizens are too often heedless of gun safety.
In a nation armed to the teeth, the wrong circumstances and misunderstandings lead to sudden death and injury in thousands of cases a year. Lawmakers should consider the lives cut short like Ms. McBride’s when they fail to tighten gun safety laws.

For more information on what you can do to help stop the violence, go to: and 
Another interesting piece is at

Thursday, November 14, 2013

It's About Time!

There is a story in today's Arizona Republic that is really good news for the health of America.  It was written by Mike Stobbe of the Associated Press, and the headline reads: "Doctors get aggressive about treating obesity."

The article says that the medical profession has issued new guidelines for doctors in fighting the obesity epidemic in the U.S. Well, I guess better late than never.  The data is clear that obesity is a serious health problem, yet doctors will treat the results of obesity - diabetes, knee problems, heart attacks, etc - with only a hint that "you should probably lose a few pounds."  Now, maybe doctors will go to the root cause of these symptoms and help people lose the weight.

Doctors will calculate your body mass index, and if you need to lose weight, they should come up with a plan and send you for counseling.

Let's see if it helps.

"Bloody Rampage"

I so admire the work that Joe Nocera and Jennifer Mascia are doing with their unflagging reporting on gun violence in America.  It has to be a difficult task - gathering this data and writing every day about lives that have been cut short by guns and the people who have them.  Children, mothers, grandmothers, and singer-songwriters.  I have to believe that their work will make a difference.  

November 13, 2013, 9:00 am
The Gun Report: November 13, 2013

Ali Eskandarian
The victims of gun violence we write about in this space are strangers. We feel for their plight and empathize with their loved ones, but we do not know them. That changed for me on Monday, when I pulled up the Times home page and read about the death of someone I knew.

Ali Eskandarian, 35, the first victim of a bloody rampage that claimed two other lives, was a soulful singer and songwriter whose music was colored with an earnest, controlled intensity. Though he was often compared to Bob Dylan and Jeff Buckley, he sounded like no one else. His voice soared, his warm eyes bored into you, his smile enveloped you.

I came to know Ali because his girlfriend was a friend of mine, who worked with me on the Metro desk of the Times. He wrote a song for her, in my opinion one of his best. I’d visit their apartment abutting Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, where he doted on her and poured us Glenfiddich. He saw to it that everyone had whatever they needed, be it hummus or cigarettes or good conversation.

Earlier this year, Ali became a guest vocalist for The Yellow Dogs, a band comprised of Iranian expatriates. Two other members of the band, who were brothers, were also shot and killed in their Brooklyn, N.Y., townhouse early Monday. In an interview with the group, Ali was described as the group’s “missing puzzle part.” Though he had 
lived in Tehran as a child, he was born in Pensacola, Fla., and spent his adolescence in Dallas, Tex. He moved to New York in 2003. (Photo: Gabriella Fellet
The Yellow Dogs)

Ali Akbar Mohammadi Rafie, 29, the perpetrator of Monday’s massacre, used a Century Arms .308-caliber assault rifle of Spanish origin that he carried up to the roof of the victims’ townhouse in a guitar case. According to this recent listing on Armslist, it retails for about $1,000. He had five magazines containing 100 rounds of ammunition. He fired the gun more than a dozen times before using it on himself. The N.Y.P.D. traced the gun to a store in upstate New York that went out of business in 2006. Rafie arrived in the United States from Tehran in 2011, leaving open the question of how he came to acquire the gun.

Here is today’s report.
—Jennifer Mascia

Four people were found dead, including the gunman, in a domestic shooting inPhoenix, Ariz., Tuesday night. Police believe the shooter, a 50-year-old man, shot and killed his estranged wife in the backyard of their home before setting her body on fire. The body of the man’s teenage daughter was found inside the home, and the body of another man, a friend of the gunman’s wife, was found in the driveway.

For the remaining pages of this report, go to:

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Gun Violence Is a Contagious Disease

Gary Slutkin proposes an approach that the NRA can whole-heartedly support.  Does not involve ANY infringement on the 2nd Amendment, and actually supports their slogan, "Guns don't kill people, people kill people."  See what you think.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

A Case Not Worthy of the Court

Have you heard about this one?  I noticed it because I have owned a small business and I am a photographer, although I am not a professional in the sense that the defendant in this case is.

Briefly, here's what happened.  A husband and wife own a photography business in Alberquerque, New Mexico.  They make a living by doing portraits, photographing weddings, reunions, parties, all the normal activities that non-commercial photographers do.  They received an email requesting their services at a same-sex commitment ceremony.  They declined the job, citing their religious belief that a marriage was between one woman and one man.  The photography studio was sued for discrimination and lost.  The case has been appealed all the way to the Supreme Court.

You can follow this case on the Scotus blog, so I won't go into the legal arguments presented by the two sides.  I simply want to express my feelings, whether or not the court eventually agrees with me or not.

First, I believe that a photographer is an artist and the product she creates is a combination of skills learned and practiced over years, and an artistic vision that is hers alone.  Now I am not speaking about the "school" pictures that are taken by the millions every year where every child sits in the same chair, in front of the same backdrop, and the photos are processed by a machine.  In this case, the photographer builds a reputation over time, showing their unique approach, their skill with photography equipment, and their mastery of computer programs used in their craft.  You only have to search "Wedding Photographer" on Google Images to see how different one wedding photographer is from another.  This reputation is important in growing and maintaining their business.  It seems that here in the US, a photography studio should be able to pick and choose jobs that will enhance that reputation.

Whether the Court says yes or no, if this photographer is coerced into taking a job that she doesn't believe in, I doubt that the pictures will be of the same quality as others she has done.  Some may be over-exposed, others may have busy, distracting backgrounds, one or more of the subjects may have been caught yawning, all kinds of things can happen.  Or, more simply, the photographer may take only 30 shots instead of the usual 100.

If I were the couple wanting photographs of my ceremony, I certainly would not want to hire someone who didn't want the job.  I would want to work with a photographer who could put their heart into their work and celebrate with us.  It's sad when an occasion that's meant to be joyous ends up being a lawsuit.