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Pat’s Chat

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Yesterday was the 33rd birthday of my grandsons, Adam Lee Bucklew and David Scott Bucklew whom I haven’t seen since they were almost three.  It breaks my heart.  They have since been adopted by their step-father so their names are now Adam Lee Christiansen.  They probably live somewhere in Missouri or maybe some other Midwest state.  I have tried to call them every way I knew how.  No luck.  Those young men have missed a lot of love from this part of their family, and many birthday presents, cards, etc.  If any of you ever meet them, please tell them they have a grandmother here who loves them very much.  Tell them I pray for them always, and wish they would come meet me and their cousins.

I found the following Chat that was supposed to be sent April 10, 2016, but from what I can tell, it never got sent.  I am just sending it out to let you see it

A little over two weeks ago my left ear was itching in church, so I removed my hearing aid and dropped it into my purse, intending to retrieve it later to put into a glasses case in which I carry my aids and extra batteries, etc.  A few days later I could find only the right ear aid, though I emptied my purse completely to search and another purse, and the pockets of any sweater, coat or jeans I had worn recently.  I wore only my right ear aid the rest of the time.  I made a special trip to church to look all around in case the aid had fallen out at church.  I also searched around inside my car.  And I prayed that God would help me find it.  I thought I would probably have to buy a new set of aids, or one aid.  Saturday evening, April 3, Mary Ann called me to see if I had lost a hearing aid.  She had seen her cat, Barney, a big, friendly, loving, tuxedo cat, playing with something on the floor and she thought looked like a broken hearing aid!  My hero, Barney, had unearthed the aid from somewhere.  It may have fallen out of my purse or Barney may have seen it in the top of my open purse may have taken it out to play with.  I had visited Mary Ann after church because her son, my nephew, was there.  Yes, it was my hearing aid and Barney had found it for me.  I think God has a sense of humor.  Sometimes my prayers are answered in ways that make me laugh, like I did then.  I was so happy!

I hear that Cecil Knight died on Sunday, April 03.  I believe he was living out in Washington (state).  I always liked him.  I am so sorry to hear of his passing.  He told someone last week by phone that he wasn’t feeling well and wouldn’t be long for this world.  He also told her that he enjoyed my Chats.  He must have been getting a paper from this area.

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Mary Ellen Davidson and I often eat breakfast or lunch together.  We like the adventure of exploring different eating places, so last week we went to Hillbilly Grill down near Stone Coal Lake.  Their menu is mostly meat dishes and their servings are very generous.  I asked them to bring me a steak hoagie without the steak, just adding extra sautéed vegetables and cheese.  The sandwich was beautiful and we decided to take a picture of it, which I am including.  Mary Ellen ordered her burger without the bun.  She got onion rings with that and saw that one of the rings had a little heart-shaped attachment.  We took a picture of that, too, which I am including.  The atmosphere at Hillbilly Grill is friendly and the service is great.  If you have never been there, it would be worth your while to try it.  It was quite an adventure for us that day because not only was it a delicious lunch, but we traveled all the way down Stone Coal Lake Road and saw beautiful scenery, lakes, hills, valleys, meadows, homes and farms.

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I often encourage my readers to read the Bible.  Today I was reading Matthew 5, 6 and 7, which is known as The Sermon on the Mount.  What Jesus spoke gives us a glimpse of Himself, His character.  “It tells us what God is like, as the ruler of His kingdom, and tells us what God calls us to be like, as subjects of His kingdom.  It’s a radical call from the principles and standards of the fleeting kingdoms of this world to the principles and standards of the one kingdom that will exist forever.  (See Daniel 7:27)”  Adult Teachers Sabbath School Bible Study Guide, The Book of Matthew, April-May-June 2016, General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, p. 32.  I hope you will each make time for a daily reading of the Word of God, especially the four gospels and Psalms.  If this becomes a daily habit, it will help bring peace to your heart.

Maranatha

Now

“We have been living with nuclear weapons for 72 years, so that must make them safe and sustainable, right?…”

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We have been living with nuclear weapons for 72 years, so that must make them safe and sustainable, right?
Wrong.

Nuclear weapons are the only way we have of killing most humans on Earth in the space of a few hours—far more immediately than global climate chaos, which is itself a dire threat. Indeed, reliable astro-scientists assure us that they predict no giant meteor collisions nor anything else that can wreck life on Earth for at least millennia, except the ultimate self-inflicted nuclear apocalypse.
Most of humankind understands this, most of humankind is not defended in any conceivable fashion by the godawful weapons in the arsenals of just nine of the 200 nations on Earth.

That is why we are witnessing a political showdown between the overwhelming majority of the planet’s countries and the nine nuclear powers.

Oh, you hadn’t heard about this conflict? That is hardly surprising in our strange media and political atmosphere of random bellicose presidential tweets, votes on whether to slash healthcare for our most vulnerable citizens, and narcissistic speeches to the bewildered Boy Scouts. Not to mention the deranged cockfight environment we are witnessing inside the inner circle in the oddest, most dysfunctional White House in US history.

Far more meaningful in the long arc of human history and certainly in our hopes for future generations is the recently passed treaty to ban all nuclear weapons on Earth.

Yes, there have been sidelong, kick-the-warhead-down-the-timeline attempts before, including the 1963 Partial Test Ban Treaty, the 1970 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, the stalled Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, but now comes a full frontal legal and worldwide political assault on the enemy of the generations, nukes.
And we have seen successful treaties to outlaw both biological weapons (1972) and chemical weapons (1992), neither of which have ever been capable of the immediate and long term threat to life locked and loaded in the arsenals of just nine nations.

Naturally, it is The World v Nuclear Weapons Nation-states, plus a few nations who don’t have nukes but whose economic and political arms have been twisted, primarily by the US.

The 72 years since the atomic annihilation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is nothing more than a quick eyeblink in the long span of human history and prehistory. Nukes are a single incident away from wrecking your life, your great-grandchildren’s lives, and those of everyone else. They are now officially criminal and have always been evil.

Now is the most opportune time ever to let your federal elected officials know that we stand with the vast majority of people on planet Earth. It’s time. Sign that treaty and get it ratified. Save the world, literally.

Anything Goes When You’re a Cop in America

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“There is one criminal justice system for citizens—especially black and brown ones—and another for police in the United States.”—Redditt Hudson, former St. Louis police officer

President Trump needs to be reminded that no one is above the law, especially the police.

Unfortunately, Trump and Jeff Sessions, head of the Justice Department (much like their predecessors) appear to have few qualms about giving police the green light to kill, shoot, taser, abuse and steal from American citizens in the so-called name of law and order.

Between Trump’s pandering to the police unions and Sessions’ pandering to Trump, this constitutionally illiterate duo has opened the door to a new era of police abuses.

As senior editor Adam Serwer warns in The Atlantic, “When local governments violate the basic constitutional rights of citizens, Americans are supposed to be able to look to the federal government to protect those rights. Sessions has made clear that when it comes to police abuses, they’re now on their own. This is the principle at the heart of ‘law and order’ rhetoric: The authorities themselves are bound by neither.”

Brace yourselves: things are about to get downright ugly.

By shielding police from charges of grave misconduct while prosecuting otherwise law-abiding Americans for the most trivial “offenses,” the government has created a world in which there are two sets of laws: one set for the government and its gun-toting agents, and another set for you and me.

No matter which way you spin it, “we the people” are always on the losing end of the deal.

If you’re a cop in the American police state, you can now break the law in a myriad of ways without suffering any major, long-term consequences.

Indeed, not only are cops protected from most charges of wrongdoing—whether it’s shooting unarmed citizens (including children and old people), raping and abusing young women, falsifying police reports, trafficking drugs, or soliciting sex with minors—but even on the rare occasions when they are fired for misconduct, it’s only a matter of time before they get re-hired again.

For example, Oregon police officer Sean Sullivan was forced to resign after being accused of “grooming” a 10-year-old girl for a sexual relationship. A year later, Sullivan was hired on as a police chief in Kansas.

St. Louis police officer Eddie Boyd III was forced to resign after a series of incidents in which he “pistol-whipped a 12-year-old girl in the face in 2006, and in 2007 struck a child in the face with his gun or handcuffs before falsifying a police report,” he was quickly re-hired by another Missouri police department.

As The Washington Post reports: “In the District, police were told to rehire an officer who allegedly forged prosecutors’ signatures on court documents. In Texas, police had to reinstate an officer who was investigated for shooting up the truck driven by his ex-girlfriend’s new man. In Philadelphia, police were compelled to reinstate an officer despite viral video of him striking a woman in the face. In Florida, police were ordered to reinstate an officer fired for fatally shooting an unarmed man.”

Much of the “credit” for shielding these rogue cops goes to influential police unions and laws providing for qualified immunity, police contracts that “provide a shield of protection to officers accused of misdeeds and erect barriers to residents complaining of abuse,” state and federal laws that allow police to walk away without paying a dime for their wrongdoing, and rampant cronyism among government bureaucrats.

Whether it’s at the federal level with President Trump, Congress and the Judiciary, or at the state and local level, those deciding whether a police officer should be immune from having to personally pay for misbehavior on the job all belong to the same system, all with a vested interest in protecting the police and their infamous code of silence: city and county attorneys, police commissioners, city councils and judges.

It’s a pretty sweet deal if you can get it, I suppose: protection from the courts, immunity from wrongdoing, paid leave while you’re under investigation, the assurance that you won’t have to spend a dime of your own money in your defense, the removal of disciplinary charges from your work file, and then the high probability that you will be rehired and returned to the streets.

It’s a chilling prospect, isn’t it?

According to the New York Times, “Some experts say thousands of law enforcement officers may have drifted from police department to police department even after having been fired, forced to resign or convicted of a crime.”

It’s not safe to be one of the “little people” in the American police state.

Consider what happened in San Antonio, Texas.

In 2006, police officer Jackie Neal was accused of putting his hands inside a woman’s panties, lifting up her shirt and feeling her breasts during a routine traffic stop. He remained on the police force. In 2007, Neal was accused of digitally penetrating another woman. Still, he wasn’t fired or disciplined.

In 2013, Neal—then serving as supervisor of the department’s youth program—was suspended for three days for having sex with a teenage girl participating in the program. As Reuters reports, “Neal never lost a dime in pay or a day off patrol: The union contract allowed him to serve the suspension using vacation days.”

Later that same year, Neal was arrested on charges that he handcuffed a woman in the rear seat of his police vehicle and then raped her. He was eventually fined $5,000 and sentenced to 14 months in prison, with five months off for “work and education.” The taxpayers of San Antonio got saddled with $500,000 to settle the case.

Now here’s the kicker: when the local city council attempted to amend the police union contract to create greater accountability for police misconduct, the police unions flexed their muscles and engaged in such a heated propaganda campaign that the city backed down.

It’s happening all across the country.

This is how perverse justice in America has become.

Our Bill of Rights has been torn to shreds, and the cops have replaced it with their own Bill of Rights: the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights (LEOBoR), which protects them from being subjected to the kinds of debilitating indignities heaped upon the average citizen.

Incredibly, while our own protections against government abuses continue to be dismantled, a growing number of states are adopting LEOBoRs—written by police unions—which provides police officers accused of a crime with special due process rights and privileges not afforded to the average citizen.

In other words, the LEOBoR protects police officers from being treated as we are treated during criminal investigations: questioned unmercifully for hours on end, harassed, harangued, browbeaten, denied food, water and bathroom breaks, subjected to hostile interrogations, and left in the dark about our accusers and any charges and evidence against us.

Not only are officers given a 10-day “cooling-off period” during which they cannot be forced to make any statements about the incident, but when they are questioned, it must be “for a reasonable length of time, at a reasonable hour, by only one or two investigators (who must be fellow policemen), and with plenty of breaks for food and water.”

According to investigative journalist Eli Hager, the most common rights afforded police officers accused of wrongdoing are as follows:

  • If a department decides to pursue a complaint against an officer, the department must notify the officer and his union.
  • The officer must be informed of the complainants, and their testimony against him, before he is questioned.
  • During questioning, investigators may not harass, threaten, or promise rewards to the officer, as interrogators not infrequently do to civilian suspects.
  • Bathroom breaks are assured during questioning.
  • In Maryland, the officer may appeal his case to a “hearing board,” whose decision is binding, before a final decision has been made by his superiors about his discipline. The hearing board consists of three of the suspected offender’s fellow officers.
  • In some jurisdictions, the officer may not be disciplined if more than a certain number of days (often 100) have passed since his alleged misconduct, which limits the time for investigation.
  • Even if the officer is suspended, the department must continue to pay salary and benefits, as well as the cost of the officer’s attorney.

These LEOBoRs epitomize everything that is wrong with America today.

As Redditt Hudson, a former St. Louis police officer, noted, “We all know – either from personal experience or the experience of someone close to us – that there are officers that will violate citizens’ human rights and civil liberties with impunity and who are comfortable in the knowledge that the system will protect and cover for their actions… These inequities have led, inexorably, to the current national crisis in police-community relations – and the best way forward is to make sure we severely punish officers that violate the rights of the citizens they serve. They must be held accountable for their actions.”

Now once in a while, the system appears to work on the side of justice.

Every so often, police officers engaged in wrongdoing are actually charged for abusing their authority and using excessive force against American citizens.

And occasionally, those officers are even sentenced for their crimes against the citizenry.

Yet in just about every case, it’s still the American taxpayer who foots the bill.

For example, Baltimore taxpayers have paid roughly $5.7 million since 2011 over lawsuits stemming from police abuses, with an additional $5.8 million going towards legal fees.

New York taxpayers have shelled out almost $1,130 per year per police officer (there are 34,500 officers in the NYPD) to address charges of misconduct. That translates to $38 million every year just to clean up after these so-called public servants.

Over a 10-year-period, Oakland, Calif., taxpayers were made to cough up more than $57 million (curiously enough, the same amount as the city’s deficit back in 2011) in order to settle accounts with alleged victims of police abuse.

Chicago taxpayers were asked to pay out nearly $33 million on one day alone to victims of police misconduct, with one person slated to receive $22.5 million, potentially the largest single amount settled on any one victim. The City has paid more than half a billion dollars to victims over the course of a decade. The Chicago City Council actually had to borrow $100 million just to pay off lawsuits arising over police misconduct in 2013. The city’s payout for 2014 was estimated to be in the same ballpark, especially with cases pending such as the one involving the man who was reportedly sodomized by a police officer’s gun in order to force him to “cooperate.”

Over 78% of the funds paid out by Denver taxpayers over the course of a decade arose as a result of alleged abuse or excessive use of force by the Denver police and sheriff departments.

That’s just a small sampling of the most egregious payouts, but just about every community—large and small—feels the pinch when it comes to compensating victims who have been subjected to deadly or excessive force by police.

The ones who rarely ever feel the pinch are the officers accused or convicted of wrongdoing, “even if they are disciplined or terminated by their department, criminally prosecuted, or even imprisoned.”  

In fact, police officers are more likely to be struck by lightning than be held financially accountable for their actions.

A study published in the NYU Law Review reveals that 99.8% of the monies paid in settlements and judgments in police misconduct cases never come out of the officers’ own pockets, even when state laws require them to be held liable. Moreover, these officers rarely ever have to pay for their own legal defense.

For instance, law professor Joanna C. Schwartz references a case in which three Denver police officers chased and then beat a 16-year-old boy, stomping “on the boy’s back while using a fence for leverage, breaking his ribs and causing him to suffer kidney damage and a lacerated liver.”

The cost to Denver taxpayers to settle the lawsuit: $885,000. The amount the officers contributed: 0.

Kathryn Johnston, 92 years old, was shot and killed during a SWAT team raid that went awry. Attempting to cover their backs, the officers falsely claimed Johnston’s home was the site of a cocaine sale and went so far as to plant marijuana in the house to support their claim.

The cost to Atlanta taxpayers to settle the lawsuit: $4.9 million. The amount the officers contributed: 0.

Meanwhile, in Albuquerque, a police officer was convicted of raping a woman in his police car, in addition to sexually assaulting four other women and girls, physically abusing two additional women, and kidnapping or falsely imprisoning five men and boys.

The cost to the Albuquerque taxpayers to settle the lawsuit: $1,000,000. The amount the officer contributed: 0.

Human Rights Watch notes that taxpayers actually pay three times for officers who repeatedly commit abuses: “once to cover their salaries while they commit abuses; next to pay settlements or civil jury awards against officers; and a third time through payments into police ‘defense’ funds provided by the cities.”

Still, the number of times a police officer is actually held accountable for wrongdoing while on the job is miniscule compared to the number of times cops are allowed to walk away with little more than a slap on the wrist.

Trust me, this is a recipe for disaster.

“In a democratic society,” observed Oakland police chief Sean Whent, “people have a say in how they are policed.”

As I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, America is a constitutional republic, not a democracy, which means that “we the people” not only have a say in how we are policed—we are the chiefs of police.

~~  John W. Whitehead ~~

Jeanette Riffle: Grand Champion Steer

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Pictured is Kraden Mitchell, son of Richard and Angela Stewart Mitchell of Frametown. Kraden’s angus/char, weighing in at 1, 225 pounds at fair time, won Grand Champion Steer at the Braxton Co. Fair of 2017. He named the steer, Fred.  Kraden also won ribbons and plaques besides highest gain of weight for his steer. He is my great nephew on the Stewart side. He is my brother, Elder Roger Stewart’s, grandson. Marina Marks Stewart is his grandma. Marina is a daughter of the late Geraldine Marks who wrote the column, “Around the Kitchen Table.”

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There have been lots of fairs and festivals going on in Gilmer and Braxton counties. Lots of reunions and family get togethers. People have gone on vacations and some have taken day trips. Right now, we are having fall like weather and it makes everything more tolerable to be outside. Farmers are in hay and gardens are flourishing. Housewives are canning and freezing food for the winter.  It’s a busy time of year.  We are still having the thunder storms nearly every week. I can remember when we were growing up that Mom and Dad made us kids go to bed during a storm. They thought the feather pillows would protect us from lightening. Aunt Bea Stewart Watson, said that my Grandfather, Frank Stewart, would put a feather pillow up over the phone on the wall. He was afraid of lightening running in on the phone. Another belief was that if you were out in a car, the rubber tires would protect you. Mom always got us quiet. Old folks believed that noise attracted lightening. Another belief was that you had to stay out of water, not only out of the creek, but also in the house. Don’t even have your hands in water.

Our son was always fascinated by a storm. We were on a camping trip, in a campground, up in northern Michigan one time and it came up a thunderstorm during the night. I woke up and checked on him. He wasn’t in his bed.  I opened the camper door and saw him sitting out on the picnic table in that rain, all excited and watching the sky. I yelled at him to get back inside the camper and asked him why he was out there in that storm. He said he just wanted to see what was going on.  We got him back to safety. He was probably about 8 or 9.  Some boys do not fear anything and he was one of them. I think he had guardian angels watching over him or he wouldn’t be here.  When we first moved back to the farm at Shock, we had a tin roof on our trailer and I always enjoyed the sound of rain hitting on the tin roof. I’ve heard a lot of people say that they like to hear that. That’s all for this week, folks.

Until next time, take care, stay safe from the storms and God bless.

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