By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – Now that Mitch Landrieu has removed four Confederate era monuments in New Orleans, supposedly we can expect two things as stated by the mayor himself:

  1. Crime will drop and the city will unify.
  2. New Orleans population will swell to pre-Katrina numbers.

Over the past few weeks Landrieu has used the city’s firefighters and police force to work, masked and in the dark of night, to remove these four landmarks which are now in an unsecured maintenance trash yard in NOLA.

Some reflections on this entire ordeal:

The citizens of New Orleans never got to vote on this. A city council vote of 6-1 sealed the fate of the monuments.

Various local media polls in New Orleans showed a majority supported leaving the monuments in place. The monument opponents, however, were more vocal.

Mitch Landrieu credits former NOLA resident Wynton Marsalis with the impetus to remove the monuments. Marsalis, who lives in New York, penned an OpEd for the Times-Picayune in December 2015 in which he stated:

“When one surveys the accomplishments of our local heroes across time from Iberville and Bienville, to Andrew Jackson, from Mahalia Jackson, to Anne Rice and Fats Domino, from Wendell Pierce, to John Besh and Jonathan Batiste, what did Robert E. Lee do to merit his distinguished position? He fought for the enslavement of a people against our national army fighting for their freedom; killed more Americans than any opposing general in history; made no attempt to defend or protect this city; and even more absurdly, he never even set foot in Louisiana.”

The statement about Lee never setting foot in New Orleans is patently false as Robert E. Lee was stationed at Jackson Barracks and was in the city numerous times over several years.

Mitch Landrieu has displayed an astounding lack of transparency on the removal process. Landrieu promised the courts that qualified contractors would be used in removal. This was a lie. Landrieu used city firefighters to remove the monuments and live feeds of the removal of each monument was evidence enough of their ineptness and inexperience with removal of priceless works of public art as the statues twirled perilously at the end of straps rigged around them supported by bubble wrap and while removal cranes burned rubber trying to get closer to their targets and leaked hydraulic fluid everywhere.

In his victory speech last week, Landrieu claimed that the monuments caused a great exodus from the city:

“I will say this for the people that are interested in the costs. The cultural, economic, and spiritual loss to the city for having those statues up that have run people out of the city. The great migration that sent some of our best and brightest to place across the country that we don’t have the benefit of has been incredible.” said Landrieu.

It’s as if it never crossed his mind that high crime, pot-hole ridden streets, corrupt government, failing schools, no jobs, and high taxes might be a contributing factor to the problems in New Orleans.

In truth, Hurricane Katrina caused the population exodus and the city’s population has been on a steady climb back to pre-Katrina numbers ever since.

As we reflect over the travesty of the Landrieu administration, one has to consider his motives in all of this. There have been rumors of a job offer from Al Sharpton for Landrieu, there have been rumors of the mayor having national political ambitions, and there have been rumors of motivations in Landrieu’s personal life for removal of these monuments.

Water under the bridge.

What is left in the wake of all this is a once beautiful city now more racially divided than ever. A city that came together in unity after Hurricane Katrina that is now ripped and torn at the seams. A city with a crime rate that makes it the most dangerous city in the country.

As I have documented this story on this blog through the past months, it has been with the purpose to acknowledge that this can happen in any city in any state in the country. As a people we must find a way to live together and to reconcile ourselves with our differing opinions and perspectives. States all across the South are struggling with this Civil War monument issue – some choosing to protect their monuments and some not. Some choose to add other monuments to appease the opponents (they call it ”balancing the story” but it is appeasement). Some choose to add “interpretive plaques” that retell the story in a more politically correct light.

The ignorance of our society, and the willingness to too many to avoid the study of history, is where this emanates from. Had Mitch Landrieu done one iota of research, for example, he would have known that Robert E. Lee had been in New Orleans. That was never the point.

Landrieu’s point was to “correct history,” as he told TIME magazine.  Now that’s a monumental ego for you.

As for the crime issue, the city has 76 murders this year so far, well above the rate last year.  And on Saturday night, for example, with all four monuments now gone, the shootings and violence continue. Two men were shot in downtown New Orleans Saturday night and another stabbed with a screwdriver.

Thank goodness the city is unified now.

 

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – Another week, another Confederate era monument gone.  In the early morning hours Thursday morning, the twenty-five foot bronze statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis was ripped from its granite pedestal by city crews (which one again included city firefighters) hiding behind masks as monument supporters who had stood vigil all night long quietly sang “Dixie.” Some stood and solemnly saluted the desecrated statue of Davis as the statue was lowered onto a rented flatbed truck..

Crews gathered around the statue just after midnight, partially wrapped the statue’s mid-section in green bubble wrap, tied a thick yellow strap around the torso, and lifted the statue, Davis’s arm pointing at both demonstrators and supporters as the statue twirled in mid-air.  A makeshift crate was placed around Davis and crews lowered the statue onto the back of a flatbed truck and hauled it off to an undisclosed warehouse.

The pedestal is another matter – it took the untrained city contractors several more hours to figure out how to remove the heavy granite pedestal which sat most of the morning with a limp strap around it while engineers phoned into television stations warning that if it was lifted it would probably tip the truck over. It is as if Jefferson Davis himself was mocking them, declaring his right to be there as the inscription on the pedestal reads, “His name is enshrined in the hearts of the people for whom he suffered, and his deeds are forever wedded to immortality.”

Arlene Barnum was there. She came to New Orleans as soon as Mayor Landrieu had Liberty Place monument removed three weeks ago; she’s been standing guard at the Jefferson Davis monument day in and day out with a growing crowd of supporters. Arlene is a 63-year old black woman from Oklahoma, an Army veteran, and a woman with Confederate ancestors from north Louisiana. She felt that as “the one and only president of the Confederacy,” she was obligated to stand with Davis. As she stood at the monument, Arlene has been called a variety of racial slurs: “Aunt Jemima” seems to have been the most offensive to her. Her truck tires were slashed, her cell phone was knocked from her hand as she tried to live stream, and she has gone without much sleep.

Arlene has been dubbed “General Arlene” by some of the other monument supporters standing guard with her, and they have followed her lead. She has encouraged peaceful protest and non-violence.  “Fly those flags high,” she would shout, “Keep ‘em up! Don’t let that flag touch the ground!” Pastor Larry Beane from Salem Lutheran Church led the crowd in a prayer service before the city workers came to dismantle the monument.

Mitch Landrieu spent the evening hobnobbing with donors at the home of Mary Matalin and James Carville for Mitch Landrieu’s NOLA Pac.

Thursday morning Landrieu issued a statement:

After nearly two years of planning and court battles, City officials began the process today of removing the three remaining monuments that prominently celebrate the “Lost Cause of the Confederacy.” The statues that are being removed were erected decades after the Civil War to celebrate the “Cult of the Lost Cause,” a movement recognized across the South as celebrating and promoting white supremacy.

There are four prominent monuments in question. The Battle of Liberty Place monument, which was removed three weeks ago, was erected by the Crescent City White League to remember the deadly insurrection led by white supremacists against the City’s racially integrated police department and government. The statue coming down today is the Jefferson Davis statue on Jefferson Davis Parkway. The statues slated to come down next include the Robert E. Lee statue at Lee Circle and the P.G.T. Beauregard equestrian statue on Esplanade Avenue at the entrance to City Park.

“Three weeks ago, we began a challenging but long overdue process of removing four statues that honor the ‘Lost Cause of the Confederacy.’ Today we continue the mission,” said Mayor Mitch Landrieu. “These monuments have stood not as historic or educational markers of our legacy of slavery and segregation, but in celebration of it. I believe we must remember all of our history, but we need not revere it. To literally put the Confederacy on a pedestal in some of our most prominent public places is not only an inaccurate reflection of our past, it is an affront to our present, and a bad prescription for our future. We should not be afraid to confront and reconcile our past.”

There is much about this statement that I personally find disturbing. Mayor Landrieu shows his gross gap of historical knowledge and research when he contends that the monument were erected to celebrate and promote white supremacy. That could not be more wrong.

The majority of the Confederate era monuments across the South were funded by memorial associations and by the Daughters of the Confederacy to honor their war dead. They wanted to honor the sons and husbands that would never come home, many of whom were buried in places unknown. Additionally, the monuments were intended to be instructional and to serve as historical reminders of that war, to teach future generations. For Landrieu to slant their intent in such a way is flatly irresponsible.

Landrieu’s statement goes on to say that “we must remember all of our history, but we need not revere it.” Who is he to tell us what we can and can not revere? Who made him the moral judge of society?

And when he calls the Confederacy “an inaccurate reflection of our past,” what is he saying about my ancestors that fought in that war? About the thousands of other men and boys who fought in that war on both sides?

Finally, when Landrieu says, “we should not be afraid to confront and reconcile our past,” let me just suggest that he is MOST afraid of it or he wouldn’t have our past crated up in the dark of night and hauled off to some undisclosed warehouse.

Rumors are that he will sell the monuments to Whitney Plantation where they will be mocked and derided as relics of men who defended slavery. So much for presenting an accurate representation of history.

Still to come down in New Orleans is the P.G.T. Beauregard monument and the Robert E. Lee monument. The protests and violence will continue, and the rift between groups grows wider.

As New Orleans scrapes away everything that once made it unique and historic, it will soon become just like any other city in America and there will be no reason to go visit. It is being turned over to the Antifa liberals and now has a higher homicide rate than Chicago, but please, let’s worry about monuments instead.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

By: Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – Arlene Barnum is a 63-year old Army veteran, a black woman, and is on the front lines in New Orleans standing guard at the Jefferson Davis monument.

Arlene lives in Sulpher, Oklahoma but had been in north Louisiana in the small community of Keachi in DeSoto parish to attend an annual Confederate memorial service where her ancestors who fought for the Confederacy are buried. Arlene attends the ceremony every year and maintains her family’s graves there. She was raised in north Louisiana and takes great pride in her Confederate ancestry.

The day after the memorial service Mitch Landrieu removed one of the four targeted Confederate monuments in New Orleans in the dead of night, using firefighters working undercover, behind masks and flak jackets.  Arlene decided to drive to NOLA rather than return to Oklahoma and there she has been, standing guard every night at the feet of Jefferson Davis.  There has been a growing crowd around her each night of fellow supporters, most of them with the various flags of the Confederacy, including the much maligned battle flag.

No stranger to racial violence, Arlene live streams her vigil every night. She has now posted hours of video on Facebook. She doesn’t engage those that attempt to challenge her or debate her right to defend the monument.  “They don’t care about education,” she says. “They come up to me and ask me to tell them about the Confederacy, I tell them to look it up. They don’t care what I have to say.” She just wants to stand guard peacefully.

Yet Saturday night things got heated. Saturday night a millennial liberal assaulted Arlene, hurling racial insults at her and then swatting Arlene’s phone to the ground. It was all captured on video. Arlene has filed a police report and obviously there are excellent pictures of the woman, but will she be found? Will the police even look for her?

Also on video from Saturday night are New Orleans police officers called to the scene who said they have been told to “stand down” by the mayor’s office. They are not to enforce peace at these demonstrations that are now ripping New Orleans apart. They are not to act. While Arlene Barnum did insist they make a report on her assault, it is doubtful much will come of it.

Mayor Landrieu has come under fire in the past few days by the firefighter’s union who object to his using firefighters to do his dirty work.

“The bottom line is with these Confederate monuments, it’s not really something we deal with as firefighters,” New Orleans Fire Fighters Associations President Nick Felton said, addressing reporters after almost an hour inside City Hall speaking with Landrieu’s team. “We should not be in riot gear. We should not be doing police-type work and we are absolutely concerned, you know, that that type of thing is going on.”

Members of the New Orleans Fire Department gathered for a rally Saturday and announced a vote of no confidence in their fire chief.

During the lengthy litigation as the monument issue made its way through the court system, all the way to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, Landrieu assured the courts that monument removal would be done safely by contractors trained in monument removal. Obviously this was not the case.

Landrieu had only one contractor submit a bid to remove the monuments and it was far and above the money he had collected “from private donations” to fund removal, so apparently he decided to use city resources.  He is now using a private non-profit group (exempt from public scrutiny) to fund removal.

Landrieu’s decision to have police officers stand down is a clear attempt to further his cause to remove these monuments to history. He has stated that the monuments are “nuisances” and contribute to the racial divide in the city. If there are now protests, violence, and assaults of 63-year old women, this serves to support his position. Arlene Barnum is smart enough to know that engaging the opposing side only supports Landrieu and provokes more heated confrontations and she has tried to protest quietly and without conflict.

Monument supporters standing guard at the P.G.T. Beauregard monument have been assaulted with paintball guns, had bottles and rocks thrown at them, and endure a barrage of verbal insults. Still the police stand down.  Like Arlene Barnum, Andrew Duncomb, (aka The Black Rebel), streams live on Facebook from his position at Beauregard. Duncomb is less reticent than Arlene Barnum in verbal engagement and things at Beauregard have been heated as well.

It seems at this point Mayor Landrieu has been successful in removing one of his four targeted monuments, created a terrible racial divide in an already troubled city, compromised the position of the New Orleans Fire Department, and probably broken a few laws in having them remove Liberty Place monument, and he has created an ocean of ill will.

The intensity escalates and we can only wait to see what the coming days will bring. We can only hope that there are no more physical attacks on people like Arlene Barnum who are peacefully executing their rights to free speech.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport

Previous Posts at DaTechGuy blog:
Mitch Landrieu Begins his Plan to Erase History in NOLA (4/24/17)
Mayor Landrieu’s Plans to Remove Monuments in the Dead of Night Exposed (4/17/2017)
The Slippery Slope is Now Open (3/27/17)
A Disappointing Ruling from the 5th Circuit (3/13/17)
Still Fighting the Civil War (2/5/17)
Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s Solution to 172 Murders: Equity Circles (12/26/16)
Removal of Historic Confederate Monuments in New Orleans Thwarted — For Now (12/21/2015)
Report from Louisiana: Update on the Confederate Monument Removal Controversy (1/18/2016)
The Lives of My Ancestors Mattered Too (2/1/2016)
The Ongoing Battle of the Confederate Monuments: An Update (4/18/2016)
Confederate Monuments and Unintended Consequences (6/27/16)
Report from Louisiana: Revisionist History and Confederate Monuments (9/19/2016)
Report from Louisiana: Mass Shooting in New Orleans While Landrieu Fiddles (11/28/2016)


Previous Posts on And So it Goes in Shreveport:

List of Offensive Monuments, Streets, Names in NOLA …is Puzzling (4/23/17)
Confederate Monument Removal Scheduled for 1:00 a.m. Monday (4/22/17)
The Confederate Battle Flag Rises Again in South Carolina (2/6/17)
Can the Violence in NOLA be Alleviated with Equity Circles? (12/26/16)
Shreveport Work of Art Still Needs Funding for Restoration (10/22/16)
Can You Help Clio? Restoration Fundraiser is Now Underway (9/5/16)
Epperson Demands UDC Remove Confederate Monument Within the Year (7/6/16)
Epperson’s Continued Attack on the Confederate Monument (6/22/16)
Report from the Caddo Commission Meeting in Which Ken Epperson Blasts “Jake-Leg Bloggers” (6/9/16)
Caddo Parish Confederate Monument Under Attack (5/19/16)
Joseph Welsh Texada’s Life Mattered Too (1/31/16)
The Heartbreaking Removal of the New Orleans Confederate Monuments (1/17/16)

If  you are in New York’s Hudson Valley and you like your abortions with a side of communist activism, then you are in for a real treat on Monday as Antifa and Planned Parenthood join forces to defend illegal foreign invaders, smash capitalism, support public indoctrination of non-aborted children, and snarl traffic for the May Day march in Poughkeepsie, New York on May 1, 2017! Yes, POUGHKEEPSIE, home to that bastion of higher education tolerance (well, tolerant unless you are a Jew or a heterosexual male), Vassar College!

The march begins at the ironically named “Family Partnership Center” (that’s where you can partner up with a service to avoid becoming a family with children, by any means necessary), and will end at the local City Hall where there will be a meeting which will include discussion about turning Poughkeepsie into a “sanctuary city” for foreign invaders. Because it’s more important to be welcoming to people who are here illegally than to do anything about the crime problem that exists in Poughkeepsie. Got to make sure to continue to avoid enforcing existing laws because, tolerance and diversity!

Hopefully the Hudson Valley leftists will be milder than the ones who’ve been making news lately by rioting against free speech for non-commies, and hopefully they can restrain themselves from throwing their own excrement at anyone who might show up to voice an opposing opinion.

Hudson Valley Antifa Facebook page

Here is more information about the event, from Resist and Protest:

Community Voices Heard invites you all to come join the Poughkeepsie family as we march in the streets on May Day to uplift the working class struggle as it relates to saving the Poughkeepsie city public transportation, undocumented immigrants, public school students, and fighting any form of violence as a result of the pursuit of profit!

May Day PK will consist of speakers, rallies, and a march from the Family Partnership Center to City Hall. We will culminate at Poughkeepsie City Hall as the Poughkeepsie City Council Meeting begins where a sanctuary style legislation will be discussed to protect immigrants rights in Poughkeepsie!

Educate, Agitate, Organize!

They also have it posted in Spanish, natch.

Hudson Valley May Day Facebook Event Page

Poughkeepsie previously hosted an encampment of #Occupy protesters, back when that was a thing, some of whom will likely be at Monday’s march, since these lefty groups tend to overlap each other.

For non-locals, Poughkeepsie is about an hour (by car) north of New York City, in a region known as the Scenic Hudson Valley. There is Poughkeepsie City, which normal people try to avoid when possible, and Poughkeepsie Town, which is basically middle class and kind of nice. It is in Dutchess County, and most of the county and federal government offices for the region are housed in Poughkeepsie City, as are the two hospitals the area has to offer.

I live in a small rural-ish town not far from Poughkeepsie, which is why I noticed this stuff, but I have little doubt that similar events will be happening all over the country because May Day is like Christmas for leftists. Poughkeepsie also had its own “March for Science” and “Women’s March“, because leftists gotta do what leftists do, and when leftists are agitating somewhere, they like to replicate it everywhere.  What’s happening in your neighborhood on Monday?

*******

MJ Stevenson, AKA Zilla, is best known on the web as Zilla at MareZilla.com. She lives in a woodland shack near a creek, in one of those rural parts of New York State that nobody knows or cares about, with her family and a large pack of guardian companion animals. 

Fr Imbarrato and the Lord

On Saturday afternoon drivers on Main Street in Fitchburg Massachusetts saw a sight they had likely not seen before.

Fr Stephen Imbarrato of Priests for Life and sometimes EWTN personality was in Fitchburg from New Mexico for the 2nd of three days in Massachusetts invited by WQPH 89.3 FM. Both Friday and Sunday would involve events and dinners in the Boston area but after a breakfast in Medford the rest of Saturday belonged to Fitchburg and it was an active one

He would celebrate daily mass at St. Bernards Parish at St. Camillus Church at noon, he would be the guest of honor at a lunch at Slattery’s. He would celebrate the Divine Mercy Vigil mass at the now closed Madonna of the Holy Rosary and would hear so many confessions that evening that it would delay the Dinner at that’s church’s hall and his speech there.

But the Highlight of the day and indeed his trip was to come at 2:30 when he would lead that most Catholic and most rare of events at least around here, a Eucharistic Procession where the Holy Eucharistic the actual Body blood soul and divinity of Christ would be actually be carried in full display along the street.

It was three years ago that I had covered a Eucharistic Procession from MIT to Harvard in response to the Satanic Black Mass. Saturday’s event would not be as dramatic but the target was just as evil, the Planned Parenthood location in Fitchburg which services the Worcester location to facilitate the murder and dismemberment of pre-born babies for financial gain.

at 2:30 a small crowd gathered at the old City hall including a contingent from the Knights of Columbus council #15962 St. Anthony of Padua Chapter Fr Imbarrato in full regalia held the Monstrance containing the host and began the prayers of adoration. And led by a banner calling for Rosaries to be prayed for America and an image of Divine Mercy with two angels cradling victims of abortion Fr. and the Crowd began to process from City Hall to Planned Parenthood.

In addition to this video a second person was streaming the procession live to Fr. Imbarrato’s facebook page where 2000 people watched and prayed live with us as we marched down the street praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy on the eve of Divine Mercy Sunday.

There were many curious reactions as the procession continued. A young girl at Espresso’s Pizza took pictures or videos with her camera as we passed. Drivers down main street slowed as they watched us, some visibly surprised at the sight of the blessed sacrament and the event drew curious looks from an art gallery where a small event was taking place at the same time.

It took about 11 minutes for the crowd of 70-80 accompanied unseen by the two thousand plus on the life stream to get to the planned parenthood location across from the parking lot where I had parked.

Unlike previous events there was no sign of counter protestors nor was there any sign of the press which was odd as fliers for the event had been distributed in the area for months. There was also a distinct lack of various people either passing by or driving by throwing the odd insult at the praying and protesting crowd. Whether it was due to the presence of the blessed sacrament or not I leave it for you to say, but there were at least two people who joined the crowd in prayer as they finished the Divine Mercy Chaplet and went to the Rosary.

Through it all Fr. Imbarrato stood there holding the Monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament before the Planned Parenthood site not reacting to the cars passing by, some beeping horns in support, some just staring, nor at the passers by from the young black man who took some video on his phone, to the fellow staring as he walked back to his apartment carrying this takeout from Fitchburg Jade to the Spanish Woman who looked at the sacrament and the praying and nodded in acknowledgement and approval.

Oddly there was no activity at the location itself. On previous Saturdays during protests there would be people at the location but it seemed empty and barren. Perhaps they had left early, perhaps it was a slow day but either way there was nobody entering or leaving under the visage of Christ.

At it neared 4 pm Fr. prayed the final prayers of Adoration and the host was covered and people began dispersing. Some to their homes, others to Madonna of the Holy Rosary for the next set of events which will be covered in later posts but I’ll leave you with this note.

Just under five hours later at Holy Rosary Church near the end of his talk. He informed the crowd that the number of people who had so far watched the video of the procession still available on his facebook page was in the tens of thousands. UPDATE over 200,000 It’s worth noting that the entire population of Fitchburg is only about 40,000 souls and it remains to be seen how long it will take the number of viewers online to eclipse that figure.

But even if not a single other person watches it, this was one of the most significant Catholic events ever held in Fitchburg.  Eucharistic processions are not common these days and one led by a national leader of the prolife moment in Fitchburg is rarer still.

It’s fitting that as people gather from all over the nation in Massachusetts at the National Shrine of Divine Mercy in the southwest part of the state it serves as a reminder of just how much we need mercy for.

A photo gallery follows


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For the next three days I’m going to be flat out.  Fr. Stephen Imbarrato of Priests for life who you’ve seen hosting EWTN’s series Defending life, will be doing several events in several cities for WQPH 89.3 and I’ll be covering him and those who attend the various, events, masses and dinners over Divine Mercy Sunday.  You can get tickets for the various dinners and lunches here and the events are open to the public so I hope to see you in Boston, Malden, Medford and Fitchburg particularly at the Eucharistic Procession on Saturday in Fitchburg.

If you are only interested in mass there will be four two of which he will be the celebrant.

Sat 8 AM  St. Joseph’s Church Medford  Fr. Imbarrato celebrant

Sat Noon St. Bernards Church at St. Camillus Parish Fitchburg

Sat 5 PM Madonna of the Holy Rosary 118 Theresa st. Fitchburg 

Sunday 4:30 PM  Madonna Queen of the Universe Shrine Boston Fr. Imbarrato celebrant

(the Final Mass will be preceded at 2:30 by confession and a Holy Hour)

Full details are here.


Speaking of life the most pro-life president of my lifetime has once again taken concrete action defending it.

America’s largest provider of terminations, Planned Parenthood, described the new measure, which has delighted pro-life conservatives, as “designed to undermine women’s health”.

The new law nullifies a rule finalised in the last days of the Barack Obama administration that effectively barred state and local governments from withholding federal funding for family planning services, regardless of whether groups offering these services also performed abortions.

The new measure cleared Congress last month with Vice President Mike Pence casting the tie-breaking vote in the Senate.

The Yahoo article describing this drips with contempt but this was also a win for States as Hotair noted:

When the vote was cast, Senator Joni Ernst praised the bill. “It should be the right of our states to allocate sub-grants under the Title X program in the way that best fits the needs of the people living there,” Ernst said according to a report in the NY Times. She added, “Unfortunately, like many other rules issued during the Obama administration, this rule attempted to empower federal bureaucrats in Washington and silence our states.”

I think it’s really something that the items this president has managed to advance have been pro-life.  I’m ecstatic.


Also at Hotair it seems like the most prolife president in my lifetime will be meeting with Pope Francis after all:

Just to John Gizzi’s point, I just want to make sure I note that we will be reaching out to the Vatican to see if a meeting, an audience with the Pope can be accommodated.  We’ll have further details on that.  Obviously, we’d be honored to have an audience with His Holiness.

Gronk scores? (Well, we’re used to that.) What’s odd about this is that several questions had come between Gizzi’s exchange and this later answer. The question on the table when Gronkowski interrupted was about NAFTA. No one had followed up on Gizzi’s question, but Spicer returned to it anyway. Hmmm.

At least as late as last night, the Vatican still hadn’t heard from the White House, either. America Magazine’s Gerard O’Connell reports that the Holy See’s diplomatic office is happy to arrange the meeting if they get the request:

While Francis has been a mixed bag great on confession and the danger of the devil and weak on Dogma (we still haven’t seen an answer to the four Cardinals dubia on the Amoris Laetitia footnote concerning marriage and communion)  on the issue of abortion he has been very clear in both speeches and encyclicals condemning it, although if you listen to democrats and the media it’s as if he never has.

Meanwhile Trump has so far been falling on the Paul of Tarsus vs the Simon the Magician side of the conversion scale.

They should have a lot to talk about.


Speaking of life guess what’s alive again? An Obamacare repeal compromise:

You can understand why the compromise might appeal to both the conservative and moderate wings inside the GOP. For the Freedom Caucus, it means red states will be able to shed onerous federal regs and offer a greater variety of health-care plans, replete with lower premiums for consumers. For the Tuesday Group, the fact that waivers are available but not mandatory means that blue states will be able to keep the more robust ObamaCare rules intact if they like. In that sense, the plan bears a slight resemblance to Bill Cassidy’s and Susan Collins’s proposal, which would have repealed ObamaCare and then let each state choose whether to “reimplement” it or to build their own tailor-made system. The new GOP deal doesn’t go that far but it’s a step in that direction vis-a-vis EHBs and community rating. If you believe a Freedom Caucus source who spoke to CNBC, there are 25 to 30 FC members ready to flip to yes to vote for this deal — a bit surprising given libertarian suspicions that waivers will be harder for states to obtain than everyone thinks.

And of course if it defends Planned Parenthood as well that’s going to be a biggie too.

There is a lot of talk about the first 100 days but I think that’s arbitrary, I’d just worry about getting it done period because it it gets done then we can always do more later.


You know what might also be alive again?  Ann Coulter’s speech not just At Berkeley but invited BY Berkeley which claims they have…

identified an appropriate, protectable venue that is available on the afternoon of May 2. While it is not one we have used for these sorts of events in the past, it can both accommodate a substantial audience and meet the security criteria established by our police department. Earlier today, we informed both the Berkeley College Republicans and the Coulter organization of this development, and we look forward to working with them. We will disclose the exact location of the venue once we have finalized details with both organizations.

Hotair explains the volte face:

She was going to show up anyway and create a security clusterfark for them when the usual suspects inevitably started smashing windows. That was the nuclear option. Berkeley doesn’t care about bad press from the right; the fascist left wears that as a badge of honor. They don’t care about First Amendment lawsuits either. But if the town is going to burn on the 27th and they’re going to get sued by the victims for not having done more to provide security, then sure, they’ll spring into action and find a “protectable venue.” If this standoff is destined to happen, better from the school’s perspective that it happen in an environment they can sort of control than one they can’t. Coulter forced them to choose. Any other conservative speaker with the guts and the dough to provide their own security, just in case, can probably get other public universities to back down with the same threat.

Coulter has told them they can go pound sand she’s coming the 27th anyway:

Hours later, Coulter shot down the invitation in a series of tweets and said she will speak at Berkeley on Thursday as planned not only because she “can’t do May 2,” but “THERE ARE NO CLASSES AT BERKELEY THE WEEK OF MAY 2!!!”

That week is “Dead Week,” a time when classes are suspended so students can study for exams.

“It’s at an awful time,” said Naweed Tahmas, 20, of the Berkeley College Republicans student group that invited Coulter. Also, the last day of instruction is three days later.

“Do not fall for b.s. Berkeley press release claiming they ‘rescinded’ cancelation,” Coulter tweeted. “GOOD NEWS FOR CA TAXPAYER! You won’t be required to pay $$$$ to compensate me & my crew for rebooked airfare & hotels. I’m speaking on 4/27.”

Your move Berkeley.


There was an interesting piece on Jake Tapper in the Washington Free Beacon worth quoting:

In a candid interview with GQ published Tuesday, Tapper acknowledged that after his tough interviews of administration figures like Kellyanne Conway, he picked up a following from many critics of President Donald Trump.

“It’s nice to be recognized, but I also know that a lot of the people who are happy with me now are not going to be happy with me in four to eight years,” he predicted.

Tapper said that he was just as tough on Obama, and earned his share of grief for it at the time.

“A lot of people sending me nice tweets today were cursing me when I was asking questions about Benghazi in 2012,” he said.

“President Obama was not friendly to the press, but the press was very friendly to President Obama,” Tapper told GQ. “I mean, President Obama did not like me, and I understand why. I was a pain in his ass and I didn’t drink the Kool-Aid, and, you know, a lot of other people did.”

This is what I’ve been saying for years, that once a Republican was elected, conservatives would think Tapper had turned on them, but he’s never been with us, he’s just been a reporter who actually reports.  Yeah he’s gotten a thing wrong or two on Trump (who he clearly doesn’t like) but I’m not going to throw Jake out of the bus for being what he’s always been, a journalist who asks a lot of tough questions that make people in power uncomfortable, whoever they are.


Some culture?  Olivia De Havilland (who I think my wife resembles) is the last great star of Hollywood’s golden age still alive, from Captain Blood (1933) to Gone with the Wind (1939) she’s done it all and this week demonstrated the class of that bygone generation in reply to questions concerning a new mini series Feud about Hollywood circa 1963.

De Havilland is played on the series by fellow Oscar winner Catherine Zeta-Jones as a regal friend and supporter of Davis, but she was not consulted by the show’s creators — Murphy recently told THR that he “didn’t want to intrude on Ms. de Havilland” — so THR emailed her (yes, she uses email) to ask for her thoughts about the show and the women at the center of it.

“I have received your email with its two questions,” De Havilland replied. “I would like to reply first to the second of these, which inquires of me the accuracy of a current television series entitled Feud, which concerns Bette Davis and Joan Crawford and their supposed animosity toward each other. Having not seen the show, I cannot make a valid comment about it. However, in principle, I am opposed to any representation of personages who are no longer alive to judge the accuracy of any incident depicted as involving themselves.”

Added De Havilland, “As to the 1963 Oscar ceremony, which took place over half a century ago, I regret to say that I have no memory of it whatsoever and therefore cannot vouch for its accuracy.”

I’m with Vulture.com here

Now, time to find a throw pillow large enough to embroider with every word of this email.


Susan Sarandon is one of the Stars of that series playing Joan Crawford.  She is an ultra leftist but as this story shows, she is an honest one:

“It doesn’t matter if you’re outspoken about Trump, because Hollywood hates Trump,” she says. “But it was brave of Richard to say what he said. He was drawing attention to the things that everyone has agreed not to pay attention to. That’s the sin.”

She’s talking about Richard Gere who has been blacklisted in Hollywood for the crime of Supporting Tibet and criticizing China and even indy films are iffy now:

Gere is now appearing in “Norman,” the story of a Jewish “fixer” who gets involved with an Israeli politician. He’ll soon star in “The Dinner,” a modest story about two couples arguing over their adult children’s troubles.

Pure indie filmmaking. Yet even some indie films are off limits to him now.

“There was something I was going to do with a Chinese director, and two weeks before we were going to shoot, he called saying, ‘Sorry, I can’t do it,’” confides Gere. “We had a secret phone call on a protected line. If I had worked with this director, he, his family would never have been allowed to leave the country ever again, and he would never work.”

It’s a reminder that China is the same dictatorship it always was, but just imagine if they told Hollywood to lay off of Trump or no $.  It would be fun to see which Hollywood types would bite their tongues off.  Sarandon wouldn’t, that’s why I respect her.


An earlier item mentioned Gronk that is Patriots Tight End Rob Gronkowski who was part of the Pat’s continent that visited the White House and caused the Patriots to call out the New York Times for Fake News:

and they posted a tweet comparing two compatible super bowl win visits

If you want to know why so many non-New England fans hate the patriots it’s because most can only dream about tweets that say “The last time the [insert their home team here] won two Super Bowls in three years”

and while the NYT has offered a mea culpa (via hotair)

You’ll notice that the 800+ retweets that got is a lot less that the Times original 50,000+


Finally while the Boston Bruins (down 3-1) and the top seeded Boston Celtics (down 2-0) are nearing first round playoff elimination and the Boston Red Sox season just starting (10-6) 3rd place in the East have are all newsworthy I think the big story is the real likelihood that Superbowl Hero Malcolm Butler might be done in New England:

New England Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler has signed his restricted free-agent tender, which opens the possibility that the team could trade him.

Because a player can’t be traded unless he is under contract, Butler’s status was in limbo until he signed the $3.91 million tender.

Here’s why it makes it likely that he’s done here

The thinking would be similar to what the club did in 2016 when it shipped defensive end Chandler Jones to the Arizona Cardinals in exchange for a late second-round pick. The Patriots knew they were unlikely to sign Jones to a big-money extension after the season when he became an unrestricted free agent, so they decided that getting something valuable for him one year earlier was a worthwhile investment. They ultimately turned the pick they received for Jones into two players — starting guard Joe Thuney and promising receiver Malcolm Mitchell — en route to a Super Bowl championship.

Butler might even bring the Patriots a greater return in a year in which the club’s earliest selection in the draft is currently early in the third round, No. 72 overall. If the Saints were willing to return the first-round pick they received from the Patriots (No. 32 overall) in the Brandin Cooks trade, that might be enticing for Bill Belichick. Or a combination of high second- and third-round picks might even be viewed as more valuable to Belichick for a player who is unlikely to return to the team in 2018 after New England invested five years and $65 million in free-agent cornerback Stephon Gilmore.

Of course they might just decide they want to extraordinary CB’s this year to make the defense even more airtight.

He’s one of the few people to whom a Superbowl victory can be directly traced and is rightly considered by the NFL as the top Interception of all time:

I’d be sorry to see him go but if he ends up with a big contract elsewhere I’m happy to see him cash in, he earned it.


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Olimometer 2.52

If you are not in the position to kick in your funds we’ll always accept your prayers.

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – Hello, slippery slope.  It didn’t take long for you to appear.

I’ve always noted that once the green light was given by the 5th Circuit to remove the New Orleans monuments that the slippery slope of further changes would break open. And so it has.

Read the list of names that activist group Take ‘Em Down NOLA wants changed because they celebrate white supremacy.

One is Touro Hospital.

Touro Hospital is named for Judah Touro, who was the son of Jewish immigrants and was born in Rhode Island. Touro fought in the Battle of 1812 and later worked in shipping, trade, and real estate. He lived a simple life and donated a lot of money across the country. In New Orleans one of his charitable works was to establish what would become Touro Hospital – the largest charity hospital in Louisiana.

But that’s racist, so it must go.

Tulane University must apparently change its name as well.

Why?  Because founder Paul Tulane donated large sums of money to the Confederate States of America.

Never mind that he gave large charitable donations to charities throughout New Orleans and that he worked to raise the quality of higher education in the city.

Most of the things on this list are absurd and I’d venture to say that 99.9% of the people in New Orleans don’t have one idea who Judah Touro was or who Lane Street is named for.  In fact, maybe we should quit calling the place in the road where one drives a “lane” – perhaps that too is racist.

There is still hope that some of this madness will end.  Two upcoming bills in the Louisiana Legislature may still protect these monuments and legacy names; similar bills have been successful in nearby states.

Even more bizarre is the fact that Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who is the brainchild of this removal project, has no idea what will replace the monuments that come down nor how any new monument or art would be paid for:

This is perplexing because in every other instance when anyone wants to tear down a historic site or building, the proposed destroyer must have a plan in place for what will be replacing the historic site and why it is justifiable. A year a and a half later, the City Council has not called a meeting to discuss future artwork options.  None of the organizations—Historic District Landmarks Commission and Human Relations Commission—that rubber stamped Landrieu’s cause have called such a meeting. Nothing is planned.  No public discussions held.  No artists commissioned.  No money for new monuments mentioned.  Mitch is the man without a plan.

I’m sure Take’Em Down NOLA has some ideas but, well, there’s that slippery slope again.

 

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

By:  Pat Austin

Added:  Thank you The Dead Pelican for the link!

SHREVEPORT – Bear with me, readers, for this week I’m bringing you a local problem but it is one that needs national attention in order for it to be rectified. Your help is needed.

Our local animal shelter is deplorable.  The city of Shreveport has a population of just over 200,000 people, and we are the third largest city in the state of Louisiana, yet we can’t seem to figure out how to run a humane animal shelter. The problems at Caddo Parish Animal Services are epic and have been going on for years. Any attempt to solve the problem has only been a token one.

Consider the following:

July 2007: CPAS director fired for failing to properly perform his duties, for example: failing to do rabies tests on a racoon that had scratched a man, among other offenses.

September 2007: CPAS adoption coordinator Raymond Abney resigns his position, citing multiple, horrific cases of torture, neglect, and abuse at the shelter.

2010: CPAS has a 78% euthanasia rate.

2011: CPAS has 80% euthanasia rate.

2012: CPAS has 83% euthanasia rate.

2013: CPAS has 81% euthanasia rate.

October 2013: Karen Dent’s Golden Retriever escaped her backyard when a tree fell on a fence; CPAS picked up the dog. Dent called the shelter and was told she could claim her dog, but when she arrived the dog had been euthanized.

October 2013: A puppy was found in September in a Shreveport storage locker, abandoned and left to die. Literally at death’s door, he was rescued and taken to the emergency vet clinic and then transferred to Benton Animal Hospital. By October he was in foster care with a vet tech and making a nice recovery at which time CPAS comes to their home and seizes the emaciated, still very fragile dog, as evidence of the animal abandonment crime. “Braveheart” was heartlessly placed in a kennel at CPAS rather than allowed to stay in foster care under the attention of a vet tech. Massive public outcry resulted in animal cruelty charges against the owner of the storage locker. (Braveheart’s story has a happy ending.)

2014: CPAS has 79% euthanasia rate.

August 2014: Adoptions volunteer Reed Ebarb resigned his position at CPAS after director Everett Harris verbally attacked Ebarb and his attempts to move more dogs into rescue and off the euthanasia list. Ebarb was vigilant in compiling and reporting monthly euthanasia rates to the public which was often well over 70%.

2015: CPAS has a 78% euthanasia rate.

March 2015: Two malnourished dogs, dubbed Lucky and T-Bone, were picked up by CPAS after a citizen complaint of neglect, found to be full of parasites, yet when PetSavers Rescue offered to take the dogs and vet them, director Everett Harris denied the request, igniting yet another firestorm of public outcry.

August 2015: Amanda Middleton was travelling through Shreveport, blew a tire, and her dog, Libby ran off and got lost. Libby was lost for two days before being found and taken to CPAS where a microchip was scanned and her family identified. A Humane Society volunteer had permission from the eight-months pregnant Middleton to retrieve the dog and meet Middleton halfway to return the pup, but director Everett Harris refused to release the dog to anyone but Middleton, despite written permission from Middleton to do so. Middleton drove all the way back to Shreveport from Houston to get her dog.

August 2015: CPAS director Everett Harris was placed on administrative leave, and then resigned, after posting an offensive photo on Facebook of dogs with a Star of David and Nazi symbols drawn on their heads and the caption “How to deal with the difficulties of life.” He said he meant to post the picture to a private account rather than the public CPAS page. Harris was on paid leave for several months, then terminated.

June 2016: Chuck Wilson, former assistant director of CPAS, is appointed new director of CPAS.

October 2016: Amber McMillan’s two dog were euthanized despite her multiple visits to CPAS searching for them.  McMillan contends that her dogs were not in any of the stray hold kennels she was shown when she went to the shelter. She showed photos of her dogs to the employees at the shelter and filed paperwork. The dogs were killed nine days after intake.

November 2016: DeAnna Robinson adopted a large breed dog from CPAS; he weighed only 30 pounds when she brought him home. He was emaciated and could barely walk. He had been housed in a kennel at the shelter with five other dogs.

December 2016: A stray dog, “Ellie,” wanders into a man’s yard; the man brings his own dog outside and orders it to attack Ellie who subsequently dies from her injuries. The event is captured on video which creates a social media firestorm. CPAS fails to press charges, thereby sanctioning the inhumane attack.

December 2016: “Tini” was picked up by CPAS on December 30 after being hit by a car; her owners determined that Tini was at the shelter but they were not allowed to pick her up for four days, despite that fact that the dog had a broken jaw and other injuries and needed immediate medical care. Because of the New Year’s Eve holiday, Tini had to stay in the shelter rather than be reunited with her family.

January 2017: In two separate events, two dogs tagged for rescue were accidentally euthanized.

January 2017: American Boston Terrier dog rescue attempted to pull several dogs but the dogs either starved to death or were euthanized before the rescue arrived.

January 2017: Big Fluffy Dog Rescue out of Nashville TN, came to CPAS to pull two dogs but left with 17, and later came back for more, because of the deplorable conditions in which they found the dogs in the CPAS shelter, which included inadequate medical care for broken bones, malnourished dogs, and overcrowded kennels. BFDR is urging public outcry against the abuses at the Caddo Parish shelter.

January 2017: A citizens meeting to discuss continued problems at CPAS is attended by two Caddo Parish Commissioners who cite lack of first-hand accounts as one reason why no change has been made at CPAS.

February 2017: CPAS kennel worker placed on leave, and then fired, for having sex with a dog. The act was filmed by another CPAS worker. Where this act actually took place has not been revealed; reports are that it was not at the shelter, but does it matter?

Obviously, the problems at the shelter are ongoing and it doesn’t seem to matter who the director is.  Meanwhile, literally hundreds of dogs (and cats) are euthanized each month. The shelter’s euthanasia rate is right around 50 to 60% right now, down from previous years where there was a 77% or more euthanasia rate. This decline is due to the help of some tireless rescue groups and an improved willingness by the current director to work with rescues.

Euthanasia rate: Caddo Parish Animal Services

There are volunteer rescue groups that work to pull dogs from the shelter and take them to states “up north” where stricter spay/neuter laws have resulted in lower numbers of available pets. Our dogs have a much better chance at adoption there.

That being said, this shelter still needs major change. State inspections have taken place but they are announced at least ten days in advance which gives the shelter time to clean up their act. After the public meeting in January, two Caddo Commissioners toured the shelter, but again, it was announced.

The Parish Administrator, Dr. Woody Wilson, has control over this situation. He works for the Caddo Parish Commission, but his oversight of CPAS operates is completely independent. There is no system of checks and balances and Wilson has the final, and only, voice.

Granted, we have a huge problem here in unwanted animals; too many people in this area see animals as property and all too often refuse to get their animals spayed or neutered. The director’s job at the shelter is a huge one. But it’s clear to me that this director has lost the faith of the public by this most recent string of allegations, and something must be done.

For years, and years, we’ve been told by the Parish Administrator that they are revisiting and reviewing laws, policies, and procedures yet we are still battling this issue. The public outcry rises, we get lip service, public outcry dies down, and the cycle continues. When public outcry rises, we are dismissed as crazy animal people who get their information from social media. When citizens go to shelter board meetings to voice concern, they are quickly shut down if their experience is not first-hand.

It appears that the only thing that might work is a national outcry. This shelter administration needs to be completely rebooted. They all need to go. If qualified, they can be rehired; if not, more the better.

This shelter needs to be cleaned up, literally; all policies need to be examined, updated, revised.  Dogs in stray/hold, for example, are kept in outdoor pens regardless of the weather. Too many dogs are crowded into pens thus creating feeding issues and fights. When Big Fluffy Dog Rescue pulled their thirty dogs, they wrote:

Caddo Parish Animal Shelter in Louisiana has been the subject of serious complaints for years. In January, Big Fluffy Dog Rescue took in more than 30 dogs from this shelter. Most of the dogs were emaciated, many had serious health issues and most had bite wounds consistent with fighting for resources. Big Fluffy Dog Rescue attempted without success to determine whether the cause of the animals’ suffering was the shelter itself or if the dogs came in to the shelter in that condition. Caddo Parish did not appropriately investigate the issue and the concerns of animal rescuers were largely swept under the carpet and derided by the local government as unfounded. Local media covered the story.

There is a veterinarian “on call” but not on site. Dogs with broken bones or other injuries languish. There is no feral cat or TNR program; there are no online records – everything is still done on paper.  If a volunteer speaks out or complains about conditions or abuse, they are banned from the shelter. Quite often they choose to remain silent so they can continue to help the animals in the shelter. Any online presence is due to the work of volunteers. If you go to the shelter’s page and click on animals for adoption, you might find a few, but these are out of date and do not nearly reflect the number of available animals.

The issues are epic. But at the very least, the neglect, abuse, and miscommunication must be stopped. And sex with animals? Please. Is this the best we can do with vetting our employees (this woman was a paid employee – not a volunteer!).

To be clear, I’m not calling for the firing of current director Chuck Wilson; while he may not be perfect, many of the volunteers appreciate his efforts yet Wilson is hogtied by the current structure of oversight. The source of the problem lies in the fact that the control is all with the Parish Administrator Woody Wilson who has shown very little interest in making this shelter a safe and humane shelter for animals.

Please share this with any animal rights advocates or organizations you know that might be able to help the citizens of Caddo Parish clean up this shelter and turn this situation around.  Ideally the shelter should be privatized or turned over to a competent, established rescue with a humanitarian mission. Please email or write letters, polite and respectful letters, to Parish Administrator Woody Wilson, and the Assistant Parish Administrator who is reportedly working Woody Wilson’s job while he is being investigated on a residency issue.

A national outcry is the only thing we haven’t tried. There are plenty of citizens here who want to make a difference; the problem is in the politics. We need help and you can contribute by helping to shine light on this issue.

Points of Contact:

Randy Lucky, Parish Administration – rlucky@caddo.org

Dr. Woody Wilson – wwilson@caddo.org

Louisana SPCA. Humane Law Enforcement: dispatch@la-spca.org

Louisiana Animal Welfare Commission:  http://lawc.la.gov/report-cruelty/

Shreveport Mayor Ollie Tyler: mayor@shreveportla.gov

 

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

(P.S.: Thank you Chris Muir for the cool artwork!)

 

A protestor in Tulsa with two members of the local police force (Courtesy of the Tulsa World)
A protestor in Tulsa with two members of the local police force (Courtesy of the Tulsa World)

Faith in God. Faith in the community. Faith in the system. That is why Tulsa, Oklahoma, didn’t devolve into race riots after the shooting of a black man by a white police officer.

Many residents took to the pews, while other cities, facing similar issues, took to the streets with looting and riots. Tulsa, often called “the buckle of the Bible belt,” is different because of its faith. Southern Baptists and evangelical Christians play a significant role in the community of 400,000 people. Oral Roberts University has its campus there.

The ethnic makeup of the city parallels that of the nation. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, slightly more than 60 percent of the population is white; 15 percent is African-American, and 14 percent is Hispanic.

The city has had its racial troubles, including a major riot many years ago. The police have faced both positive and negative reviews over the years.

“This is tragic–and something all of us should spend time reflecting on so we can make a better nation,” the Rev. Teron Gaddis, representing the Oklahoma Baptist State Convention, said. “This is not a race issue, a Caucasian or black issue.”

The reverend is black. Had a white leader said the shooting of a black man was not a racial issue he would have been chastised for taking up the “All Lives Matter” banner.

Even The New York Times and CNN had to admit that religion played a role in keeping the peace. Still, the media provided wall-to-wall coverage of the upheaval in Charlotte, with only a passing reference to the peaceful scenes from Oklahoma, including a Black Lives Matter protester holding hands with a white and a black police officer.

Everyone needs to look at Tulsa as an example of how to stop racial division. Riots don’t work; prayer does.


Christopher Harper, a recovering journalist with The Associated Press, Newsweek, ABC News and The Washington Times, teaches media law.

addictions
From sciencenews.org

by baldilocks

So, this happened not far from where I live.

SKID ROW, LOS ANGELES (KABC) —

Paramedics rushed to Skid Row after 18 people appeared to have overdosed on a drug presumed to be spice, or synthetic marijuana, fire officials said.

The Los Angeles Fire Department responded to the area of 5th and San Pedro streets at about 10:30 a.m.

Officials said 18 people were evaluated and 14 of those were taken to the hospital.

The victims were all suffering from similar symptoms, according to officials, which included altered mental status, combative behavior, and in some cases, seizures.

“We don’t have toxicological confirmation, but it’s presumably spice, which is a synthetic type of cannabis or marijuana. And of course, because it’s synthetic, nobody for sure knows what active ingredients are in there, the strength is variable,” Dr. Marc Eckstein, the Los Angeles Fire Department medical director and EMS bureau commander explained.

Before my homeless stint, I’d never heard of stuff like ‘spice’ and ‘tweaking.’ But 2015 was an education for me. I saw the effects of both—turning relatively normal people into the zombies of recent fiction, except that they weren’t cannibals…that I know of. And regular weed was everywhere. Since the latter is legal here in CA, there are “clinics” all around, and one of the hot topics of the homeless housing was where a customer could get the best high for the most reasonable price. Usually, I’d walk away from such conversations—not for any high-minded reasons, but because they bored me to tears.

Mere nicotine-addicts—like me–and those who would manage to sneak alcohol in were considered relatively straight-laced.

And that brings me to one of the reasons I wanted to stop smoking. It seems to me that all drug addictions bring illusory benefits but, in reality, have only drawbacks. Hard-core illegal drug addicts see these quickly, but we who partake in the legal substances are more likely to fool ourselves for many years, at least until that first stroke, heart attack, car accident, etc.

I’ve mused on my blessings from God many times; one of these is excellent physical health, in spite of battling nicotine addiction for many years. It’s a sin to take a blessing from God and throw it in the trash can, is it not?

Another thing: we are coming into some very perilous times, maybe the End Times. But even if things are not that apocalyptic, it seems that it’s best for each one of us to leave the extraneous habits behind. There is enough useless baggage on our backs already.

Fifteen days. I’m sort of addicted to CornNuts now.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel will be done in 2016. Follow her on Twitter.

Please contribute to Juliette’s JOB:  Her new novel, her blog, her Internet to keep the latter going and COFFEE to keep her going!

Or hit Da Tech Guy’s Tip Jar in the name of Independent Journalism—->>>>>baldilocks