By Doug Porter
Today, two examples from the Lone Star State strike me as indicative of a sort of mass paranoia that has become all too commonplace. I’m mindful of these stories in thinking about the CNN Republican Presidential debate, with unhinged ideas likely to be touted as reality.
Example #1 is a revisiting of an older baloney sandwich. The Jade Helm 15 training exercise, alleged to be cover for a military takeover has ended. This delusion was used for political gain by three of the Republican candidates for president and a plethora of right-wing acolytes. Nothing happened.
Example #2 is a heartbreaking story about a 14 year kid in Irving, Texas who wanted to show off his science skills. He ended up being arrested, fingerprinted, and held incommunicado after he brought a home made clock to school. Oh, and he has brown skin. And his name is Ahmed Mohamed.
The Jade Helm Hall of Shame
For those of you lucky enough to not have flat-earther relatives, a brief explanation of Jade Helm 15 is in order.
Jade Helm 15 was 60 day military training exercise in unconventional warfare. It was announced via press release. State and local officials from Texas, Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico and Utah were all briefed on the program months in advance of its July 15 start date.
Here’s a rundown of wingnuttia from Wikipedia:
The conspiracy theories seem to emanate from the map shown here from the U.S. Army Special Operations Command, that divides the region into four colors, with two “hostile” states, two “permissive” states, two states leaning one way or the other, and California divided.
According to the Hartford Courant ‘ s Jim Shea, the conspiracy theories about Jade Helm 15 include: a “psychological operation aimed at getting people used to seeing military forces on the streets” so they do not realize when an invasion actually takes place; an international operation aimed to seize people’s guns; recently closed Walmarts used by the military to “stockpile supplies for Chinese troops who will be arriving to disarm Americans”; and a military plan to “round up political dissidents” and “remove key political figures” who may be against the imposition of martial law. Other theories by right-wing bloggers and activists have described Jade Helm 15 as a “secret plot” to impose martial law, confiscate firearms, invade Texas, and institute “total population control.”
The conspiracy theories also include concern about the name of the exercise, with the jade in Jade Helm 15 possibly referring to China, and JADEpossibly an acronym for artificial intelligence developed by the U.S. military. Alex Jones, a conspiracy theorist and Texan radio show host, said that helm is an acronym for “Homeland Eradication of Local Militants”.
Candidates Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, along with former candidate Rick Perry, publicly speculated about the conspiracy theories, generally agreeing that, whatever the truth people were right to be concerned about the President’s motives.
From Raw Story:
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ordered the Texas State Guard to monitor the training exercise after panicked residents grilled a U.S. Army spokesman about various conspiracy theories. Records show the Republican governor moved away from a more measured response knocking down those concerns after the wild public meeting, and the governor drew widespread criticism for “pandering to idiots.”
Chuck Norris, the action star and conservative commentator, defended Abbott’s order as he sounded the alarm about Jade Helm 15 — which he speculated could be related to a possible ISIS attack. “It’s neither over-reactionary nor conspiratorial to call into question or ask for transparency about Jade Helm 15 or any other government activity,” Norris said. The actor later claimed he was misquoted as his warnings were widely reported, but Norris repeated his concerns about ISIS in another World Net Daily column a few weeks later.
Lest you think this just about blowhards bloviating, gun nuts claiming to be fighting Jade Helm opened fire twice in one week on a base in Mississippi. Three men in North Carolina (a state not even included in the exercise) were arrested last month for building an arsenal, including bombs, to fight back against the ‘military takeover.’
Nearly twice as many Americans have been killed by right-wing extremists since 9/11 as have died at the hands of radical Muslims on US soil, by the way.
Scientists and academic types around the country are using the hashtag #IStandWithAhmed as a way of saying geeky kids should be cherished and nurtured, not cuffed and interrogated.
Here’s the story, as told by Shaun King at Daily Kos:
Ahmed Mohamed, a ninth-grader in Irving, Texas is an engineering whiz. For fun, he makes workable gadgets and rudimentary electronics. Basically, he is what we dream an American ninth-grader will be in 2015, as our nation lags behind the world in math and science education. Wanting to show his engineering teacher what he was capable of, he brought a homemade electronic clock to school.
What should’ve been a beautiful moment of congratulatory pride quickly turned into a full-fledged nightmare for Ahmed. His English teacher, who decided the clock looked like a bomb, notified the principal, who called campus police, who called the county police. They then interrogated Ahmed, arrested him on the spot, and took him to jail.
Mind you: He’s a ninth-grader in a NASA shirt and the clock, which anyone could see was not attached to any explosives of any kind, was harmless. He never pretended it was a bomb, never told anyone it was a bomb. It was a clock.
But, as you can see, he’s not white and his name isn’t Tommy Anderson, so an engineering phenom is mistaken as a threat to national security.
When Ahmed told his interrogators he wanted to call his parents, they refused. And there are other details at this Dallas News article if you want to get really pissed off. He’s been suspended from school for three days.
UPDATE: Now the wingnuts are going to go wild…
Cool clock, Ahmed. Want to bring it to the White House? We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It’s what makes America great.
— President Obama (@POTUS) September 16, 2015
Cannabis ala Château de Humboldt
California’s Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act, soon to be signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown is, according to Josh Harkinson at Mother Jones, “uniquely awesome.”
What has pot aficionados cheering the legislation is its basic premise that marijuana is, with a few additional requirements, to be treated as an agricultural activity.
“It’s pretty groundbreaking,” says Hezekiah Allen, executive director of the Emerald Growers Association, the region’s pot-farming trade group. He’s particularly stoked that the new bills outlaw vertically integrated marijuana conglomerates (opposite to the approach many states have taken). The legislation also caps cultivation permits at one acre for outdoor grows and half an acre for indoor grows—policies intended to ensure that the industry remains in the hands of small farmers.
But that’s not all. The bills put California in the business of creating and regulating cannabis appellations, meaning that Humboldt and Mendocino pot could soon be marketed in the same way as “Napa” and “Sonoma” wines. They authorize the state to certify medical marijuana as organic (but only if the National Organic Program gives its blessing). And they require licensees with 20 or more employees to abide by a “labor peace agreement” that upholds the rights of workers to unionize.
Down the road, California’s classification of pot as an agricultural product may open the door to marijuana sales at state-regulated farmers’ markets and marijuana research at state-funded agricultural universities like UC-Davis, whose scientists could use their expertise to breed new strains. “We did better than we expected, quite frankly,” says Allen, who played a key role in negotiating the deal. “We were able to push things further in a year than we ever thought possible.”
Same as it Ever Was: Stadium Stupidity from 1968
Contributor John Lawrence has unearthed some amazing coverage from the 1968 dead tree version of the San Diego Free Press, revealing the machinations in getting what we now know as Qualcomm Stadium built.
The scanned-and-then-transcribed exposé will be appearing over the next two days on this site. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll spew coffee on your screen as you read about the hustles involved in building the stadium and bringing the Chargers to San Diego.
The really sad part of it is how little things have changed in the past 47 years when it comes to “deals” in America’s Finest City.
On This Day: 1963 -The Beach Boys album “Surfer Girl” was released. 1974 – President Ford announced a conditional amnesty program for draft-evaders and deserters during the Vietnam War. 2004 – The Farm Labor Organizing Committee signed a contract with the Mount Olive Pickle Co. and growers, ending a 5-year boycott. The agreement marked the first time an American labor union represented guest workers.
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