Author Archive | Boohunney

Comments from Potential Jurors in the Martin Shkreli trial …

Jury selection in the Shkreli trail for eight counts of securities and wire fraud has not been an easy task. Over 200 potential jurors have been excused. Here are comments made by potential jurors during selection. Brafman is Shkreli’s attorney…

 The Court: The purpose of jury selection is to ensure fairness and impartiality in this case. If you think that you could not be fair and impartial, it is your duty to tell me. All right. Juror Number 1.

Juror no. 1: I’m aware of the defendant and I hate him.

Benjamin Brafman: I’m sorry.

Juror no. 1: I think he’s a greedy little man….

Juror no. 47: He’s the most hated man in America. In my opinion, he equates with Bernie Madoff with the drugs for pregnant women going from $15 to $750. My parents are in their eighties. They’re struggling to pay for their medication. My mother was telling me yesterday how my father’s cancer drug is $9,000 a month.

The Court: The case is going to come before you on evidence that you must consider fairly and with an open mind.

Juror no. 47: I would find that difficult….

Juror no. 52: When I walked in here today I looked at him, and in my head, that’s a snake — not knowing who he was. I just walked in and looked right at him and that’s a snake.

Brafman: So much for the presumption of innocence.

The Court: We will excuse Juror Number 52. Juror Number 67?…

Juror no. 77: From everything I’ve seen on the news, everything I’ve read, I believe the defendant is the face of corporate greed in America.

Brafman: We would object.

Juror no. 77: You’d have to convince me he was innocent rather than guilty…

Juror no. 10: The only thing I’d be impartial about is what prison this guy goes to…

juror no. 59: And he disrespected the Wu-Tang Clan.

 

(h/t John Cole at Balloon Juice)

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Two sides of the same coin?

“What about the alt-left that came charging at, as you say, at the alt-right? I think there’s blame on both sides. And I have no doubt about it”

– President Trump

 

I have been seeing this assertion that the so-called “Anti-fa” is a direct left wing equivalent of the “Alt-Right” as far as a propensity for violence in op-eds and comment sections of the media as well as social media. I know that in Berkeley the “Anti-fa” showed up outside an event that featured Milo Yiannopoulos and there were violent attacks and acts of vandalism from the group. Antifa activists vandalized property and committed violence on Inauguration Day in Washington. Their actions have been relatively isolated, focused on disrupting white “Alt-Right” rallies and mostly not instigating trouble on their own.

An account of the violence of white supremacists in Charlottesville by Jason Williams brings to question the accusation that the counter protesters provoked the violence on Friday…

On Friday night, hundreds of white supremacists and neo-fascists had a torchlight march across the University of Virginia’s campus, a place to which they had not been invited. They openly chanted fascist slogans like “blood and soil” and “Jews will not replace us”.

When they reached a much smaller group of counter-protesters gathered around a statue of Thomas Jefferson, they surrounded them, hurled verbal abuse and then commenced beating them with lit torches and fists, and using pepper spray on them. Some protesters told me they had been sprayed with lighter fluid while naked flames burned all around them. Some of the people trapped around the statue responded with fists and pepper spray, but their actions, and their posture, was entirely defensive from the start. The “alt-right”, on the other hand, came prepared for violence, and they were spoiling for it.

Here is a description of events that took place on Saturday…

It was basically impossible to miss the antifa for the group of us who were on the steps of Emancipation Park in an effort to block the Nazis and alt-righters from entering. Soon after we got to the steps and linked arms, a group of white supremacists—I’m guessing somewhere between 20-45 of them—came up with their shields and batons and bats and shoved through us. We tried not to break the line, but they got through some of us—it was terrifying, to say the least—shoving forcefully with their shields and knocking a few folks over. We strengthened our resolve and committed to not break the line again. Some of the anarchists and anti-fascist folks came up to us and asked why we let them through and asked what they could do to help. Rev. Osagyefo Sekou talked with them for a bit, explaining what we were doing and our stance and asking them to not provoke the Nazis. They agreed quickly and stood right in front of us, offering their help and protection.

Less than 10 minutes later, a much larger group of the Nazi alt-righters come barreling up. My memory is again murky on the details. (I was frankly focused on not bolting from the scene and/or not soiling myself—I know hyperbole is common in recounting stories like these, but I was legitimately very worried for my well-being and safety, so I was trying to remember the training I had acquired as well as, for resolve, to remember why I was standing there.) But it had to have been at least 100 of them this go around. I recall feeling like I was going to pass out and was thankful that I was locked arms with folks so that I wouldn’t fall to the ground before getting beaten. I knew that the five anarchists and antifa in front of us and the 20 or so of us were no match for the 100-plus of them, but at this point I wasn’t letting go.

At that point, more of the anarchists and antifa milling nearby saw the huge mob of the Nazis approach and stepped in. They were about 200-300 feet away from us and stepped between us (the clergy and faith leaders) and the Nazis. This enraged the Nazis, who indeed quickly responded violently. At this point, Sekou made a call that it was unsafe—it had gotten very violent very fast—and told us to disperse quickly.

While one obviously can’t objectively say what a kind of alternate reality or “sliding doors”–type situation would have been, one can hypothesize or theorize. Based on what was happening all around, the looks on their faces, the sheer number of them, and the weapons they were wielding, my hypothesis or theory is that had the antifa not stepped in, those of us standing on the steps would definitely have been injured, very likely gravely so. On Democracy Now, Cornel West, who was also in the line with us, said that he felt that the antifa saved his life. I didn’t roll my eyes at that statement or see it as an exaggeration—I saw it as a very reasonable hypothesis based on the facts we had.

I am sure that accounts of events of last weekend in Charlottesville will slowly come out, giving a more clear picture of events. I am not one to condone violence, but, if the “Anti-fa” was, indeed, protecting peaceful protesters against a violent, angry mob, I can only say I am glad they came to these people’s aid.

With these accounts, I would say calling both these groups, Alt-Right and Anti-fa, the same would be a false equivalency.

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The Eclipse is coming…

I am really looking forward to watching the Monday’s solar eclipse. I’ll be in North Georgia at my in-laws’ house that will have 99.5% total coverage. I am ready with my Space.com and NOAA approved viewing glasses for this event. I remember the total eclipse in 1970. I was with my Great Aunt Tillie in Savannah and was eerie. The street lights came on, birds went to roost. I was all prepared with a viewing box that the instructions were given in the Weekly Reader at school. Unfortunately, it was overcast, so I couldn’t use it.
Viewing glasses have been flying off the shelves here and the displays that I saw at the grocery store last week have all disappeared.

So, here is a guide of making your own, home brew eclipse viewer…

To build your own, get a carton and cut a hole in one side, big enough to poke your head through. Paste white paper on the inside surface that you will be facing. Then punch a pinhole into the opposite side, high enough so that the little shaft of light will miss your head. For a sharper image you can make a better pinhole by cutting a one inch square hole in the carton, taping a piece of aluminum foil over this hole and then making the pinhole in the foil. Finally, tape the box shut and cover all light leaks with black tape.

Happy viewing!

 

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They are in plain view…

In July of 2015, South Carolina Highway Patrol Honor Guard quietly removed the Confederate Flag from the South Carolina Statehouse. The flag was surrendered to the museum curator of the Confederate Relic room in the State Museum, down the road from the Capitol.

I live in a town that if I drive 30 minutes east, I can have all the advantages of a bustling, diverse city. I can drive just 20 minutes to the west and be at a run-down roadhouse bar that displays its hatred and bigotry openly with sign and flags. Their changeable copy sign protested the removal of the flag in South Carolina. In the western area and the northwestern area of Georgia, the reaction to South Carolina retiring the Confederate flag was seen for weeks. Some towns were witnessing parades of trucks flying U.S. flags, “Don’t tread on me” flags, and Confederate Flags on the weekends for weeks that summer. These parades put some towns’ streets in gridlock. Minorities and immigrants were harassed.

In Douglas County, Georgia, the county where I live, was not spared these demonstrations for the love of Confederate Flags. A group the named themselves “Respect the Flag” were parading around the county on a Sunday in July 2015. 5 trucks pulled into an empty lot next to the home of an African American family that was having a gathering for a kid’s birthday outside. A member of Respect the Flag pulled a shotgun and pointed it at party-goers, used racial slurs and threatened to kill people at the party.
Here is the 911 call of one the people attending the party….

Two people, Kayla Rae Norton, 25, and Jose Ismael Torres, 26, were convicted of gang activity in February 2017. The judge sentenced Torres to 20 years, with 13 to serve in prison. Norton was given 15 years, with six to serve.
In reaction to this sentencing, Stephen Howard, imperial wizard of the Ku Klux Klan of Mississippi, announced that 200 members will arrive in Douglas County to protest in March 2017. He threatened that the group will be armed and dressed in full robes. (The courthouse is approximately three blocks from where the African American family that was harassed lives.)  I decided to go witness the rally with camera in hand. When I arrived, the Klan had not arrived, yet. There was a large law enforcement presence. The crowd was rather large in front of the courthouse. Most people there were in protest the Mississippi KKK. There were a handful people in support of the KKK. There were a few tense moments and words exchanged, but, for the most part, it was peaceful and without incident.

The Mississippi Klan did not show up for their demonstration.

Election season in Douglas County last fall did not go by without incident. Thom Wortham, Douglas County Commission Chair was campaigning at a festival that was held at the courthouse. Commissioner Wortham was elected in 2005 and it was expected that his challenger for the seat, Ramona Jackson Jones, would not pose much of a threat. All of this changed when a festival goer caught Wortham on a cell phone video making racist remarks regarding what would happen to Douglas County if the leadership in the county was primarily African American. (Douglas County is 41% African American.)

Randy Travis Fox5 report:

This video was the primary reason that Wortham lost his seat to Ramona Jackson Jones, as well as the first elected African American Sheriff of the county, as well as an African American Tax Commissioner.

And these are recent incidents and within a mile of my home.

These racists, Klan members, Alt-right, white supremacists whatever they call themselves, are in plain view. They are just not hiding anymore.

They say it is about flags and monuments. Charlottesville was not about a monument. The threat against that African American family was not about a flag. It is about the bigotry and racism like the thoughts expressed by Wortham.

And, yes, people are resisting.

All in plain view.

 

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