January 10th, 2011
NY Daily News
A sinister shrine reveals a chilling occult dimension in the mind of the deranged gunman accused of shooting a member of Congress and 19 others.
Hidden within a camouflage tent behind Jared Lee Loughner's home sits an alarming altar with a skull sitting atop a pot filled with shriveled oranges.
A row of ceremonial candles and a bag of potting soil lay nearby, photos reveal.
Experts on Sunday said the elements are featured in the ceremonies of a number of occult groups.
Investigators have focused on Loughner's online anti-government ramblings as the chief motivation for the shooting Saturday of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.).
The discovery of the shrine raises the possibility that Loughner, 22, may have been driven by other forces. Students and faculty at Pima Community College, which he attended until his suspension last summer, said Loughner was clearly at odds with the world.
CLICK HERE FOR MORE PHOTOS OF JARED LEE LOUGHNER'S HOUSE, THE SCENE OF THE TUSCON SHOOTING AND THE VICTIMS....
"As soon as the teacher started going over the syllabus, he had this outburst out of nowhere, didn't even raise his hand, and started asking the teacher some sort of weird questions about whether he believed in mind control."
Adjunct Prof. Ben McGahee, 28, worried about violence. "I remember going home and thinking to myself, 'Is he going to bring a weapon to class?'" he told USA Today.
Inside Jared Lee Loughner's home (DAILY NEWS EXCLUSIVE).
January 10th, 2011
Doctors say the bullet traveled the length of the left side of the Arizona congresswoman's brain, entering the back of the skull and exiting the front.
Fortunately, it stayed on one side of her brain, not hitting the so-called "eloquent areas" in the brain's center where such wounds almost always prove fatal.
Importantly, Giffords was responding nonverbally Sunday to simple commands in the emergency room — things like "squeeze my hand."
That implies "a very high level of functioning in the brain," said Dr. Michael Lemole of Tucson's University Medical Center, Giffords' neurosurgeon.
Now, her biggest threat is brain swelling. Surgeons removed half of her skull to give the tissues room to expand without additional bruising, Lemole said.
That bone is being preserved and can be reimplanted once the swelling abates, a technique the military uses with war injuries, added his colleague and trauma surgeon Dr. Peter Rhee.
Adding to Giffords' good prospects is that paramedics got her to the operating room in 38 minutes, her doctors said. Now she is being kept in a medically induced coma, deep sedation that rests her brain. It requires a ventilator, meaning she cannot speak. Doctors periodically lift her sedation to do tests and said she continues to respond well to commands.
[Details: Ariz. suspect once met Giffords]
The brain's left side does control speech abilities and the movement and sensation of the body's right side, Lemole noted. But he wouldn't speculate on lasting damage, saying, "we've seen the full gamut" in such trauma.
That's the mystery of brain injury: There's no way to predict just how much disability a wound that traverses multiple regions will leave, because our neural connections are so individual.
"The same injury in me and you could have different effects," said Dr. Bizhan Aarabi, chief of neurotrauma at the University of Maryland's Shock Trauma Center, who has long studied penetrating brain injuries.
"The belief is if you get shot in the head, you're dead, but it isn't like that," agreed the University of Miami's Dr. Ross Bullock, chief of neurotrauma at Jackson Memorial Hospital. He cared for a man shot in the head with an AK-47 who two years later is back to work full-time and "a normal person."
"Every patient is an individual and more so with a gunshot than anything else," he said.
There are few statistics, but doctors agree that well over 90 percent of gunshot wounds to the head are fatal. Aarabi cited his own study of 600 Maryland cases that found 95 percent were dead before arriving at the hospital.
[Related: The intern who helped save Giffords' life]
Survivors have something in common with Giffords, Aarabi said: A good "Glasgow coma score," a way to measure responsiveness, upon arriving at the hospital. That pre-surgery outlook is important because doctors can't reverse the bullet's damage, just remove fragments to fight infection and swelling. Giffords' surgeons said they didn't have to remove a lot of dead brain tissue.
The amount of disability depends on how much damage is done to what brain region. A bullet that crosses into both sides, or hemispheres, can leave extensive lasting damage. That's what happened with James Brady, President Ronald Reagan's press secretary, who was left with slurred speech and uses a wheelchair after being shot during the 1981 assassination attempt on Reagan.
In contrast, one of neurology's most famous cases was Phineas Gage who in 1848 survived a 3-foot iron rod blasting into his skull but suffered personality changes from damage to the prefrontal cortex.
It can take weeks to tell the extent of damage, and months of intense rehabilitation to try to spur the brain's capacity to recover. In addition, more than half of survivors go on to suffer seizures and need anti-epilepsy medication, Miami's Bullock said.
"We talk about recovery in months to years," said Griffords' surgeon Lemole.
Medical Writer Lauran Neergaard reported from Washington.
January 9th, 2011
But in the wake of the terrible events in Arizona, with many commentators pointing out the obvious fact that Gabrielle Giffords had been targetted by Palin in the November election on a map that used a chilling gun site graphic, I thought it would be worth watching her page for a little while to see if her team were indeed deleting negative comments routinely. But I had no idea how incredibly, almost comically, efficient her people would turn out to be in deleting comments that were even slightly critical of the former Governor. And then I came across... well, what I guess you'd have to politely call an appalling example of editorial misjudgement at best.
Here's what I found, from a brief sample achieved by the simple expedient of hitting the refresh button repeatedly over a short period of time:
A negative comment saying, "YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE, YOU EVIL WITCH" - at 17:19PM. (I'm in London, so that's British Standard Time.)
Was removed by 17:28 (although I failed to capture a screen grab - oops).
A comment that simple says, "hypocrite" - presumably in reference to Palin at 17:28
Gone by 17:29.
OK. At this point, I am finding this all kind of... well, funny I suppose. I mean, the ruthless efficiency of the deleting and the desperation with which people would try to get their negative comments up there combined with the efficiency of their removal. There were actually a lot more examples than what I've been able to show here.
And in fairness to Sarah Palin, I should say that there were a couple of comments that were removed that weren't directly critical of the Governor but clearly offensive. Most notably, a commenter who repeatedly posted, "To bad it wasn't Pelosi." Yikes.
But then things got a little... well, upsetting.
A commenter posted the following at 18:12:
"It's ok. Christina Taylor Green was probably going to end up a left wing bleeding heart liberal anyway. Hey, as 'they' say, what would you do if you had the chance to kill Hitler as a kid? Exactly."
I think I literally gasped when I read that. Remember, Christina Taylor Green was the 9 year old girl killed by the shooter. Apparently she had been brought there by her mom, who thought she might get a kick out of meeting Rep. Giffords, having recently been elected to her student council.
I assumed, as a matter of course, that this particular comment would be deleted with greatest possible speed.
So I kept hitting refresh, hoping to use this as an example to say, "You see, Palin's Facebook editing at least has the good judgement to remove clearly offensive content such as this." But it didn't come down.
By this point I thought it was likely that the staff person monitoring the page was simply no longer working - I mean, fair enough it's a Sunday, right? So I thought I would just satisfy myself that the page was no longer being edited by continuing to look for negative comments, assuming that either they would all remain live for the time being, or if the editor came back to work, that they would be removed simultaneously with the Christina post.
So here's a comment posted at 18:16 saying, "I hope you're happy now. It's because of the influence that you do wield, that you should think about things you say and do."
So then I thought, well maybe the page editors just haven't seen it. We all make mistakes, perhaps it just slipped by them.
Then I spotted another commenter, rightly expressing her disgust at the post. "You are so out of touch... Show a little consideration and leave innocent out of your twisted diatribe."
Having been alerted to the post, does the editor NOW remove it? Nope, it's still there.
And I spot several other posts being removed. For instance, here's a post from 18:28 saying, "Your type of sorrow doesn't make up for the blood on your hands."
Gone by 18:29.
I found a few more instances, but I won't belabour the point. The Christina post was still live at 16:39 when I started writing this post.
I don't really know what to make of this. Sarah Palin has the right to edit her Facebook profile - it's not technically a public platform, it's a privately owned space. But the fact someone has a right to do something doesn't mean it is always a good idea, and I think that someone who aspires to public office has an especially strong responsibility to try and engage with the public at large - not just those who agree with them. But still... she's not currently in any form of elected office and she can do what she likes.
But I find her team's editorial judgement to say the least... odd.
January 9th, 2011
Editor's note: David Gergen is a senior political analyst for CNN and has been an adviser to four U.S. presidents. He is a professor of public service and director of the Center for Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School.
(CNN) -- Until we have more definitive information about the shooter, pointing fingers at who might bear responsibility for the Tucson, Arizona, massacre only contributes to what we must end in America: a toxic political environment.
Soon after the news broke, the internet lit up with accusations, even before we knew anything at all about the man who pulled the trigger. Much of the early commentary, especially from the left, blamed the Tea Party, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, etc. for employing a rhetoric of militarism and creating a climate of hate.
Commentators from the right soon retaliated, arguing that the left was just as guilty of rhetorical excess and through bad governance, had inspired a citizen revolt. As of this hour, we have a country that is not only deeply saddened but even more divided than we were before the shooting.
We can do better -- a lot better.
My experience in government is that typically, a lot of what we think we know in the first hours of a calamitous event turns out to be wrong. In the White House Situation Room just after President Reagan was shot, we were first informed that press secretary Jim Brady had died; we said a prayer. Later we learned that he had miraculously survived; we said another prayer. It took even more time to figure out whether the would-be assassin John Hinckley was a loner or what his motivations were. Even now we are still unsure about what prompted his madness.
As a young man, I was struck by how quickly, after Lee Harvey Oswald had murdered President Kennedy, speculation centered on whether Oswald was acting on behalf of the right-wing John Birch Society. Instead, we learned that he was tied to Fidel Castro.
The country would be well served now if we cooled the accusations until we learn more about the man police are holding in Tucson, Jared Loughner. He appears to be mentally unhinged, someone who has threatened others. Why he targeted one of the most admired and popular political leaders in Arizona is unclear.
None of this is to excuse the climate of hatred that has built up in the United States over our politics and our politicians. Its origins go back a long time, but it has undeniably grown worse in recent years -- during the George W. Bush years, when the left was intensely alienated, and now during the Obama years, when the right has become vitriolic.
During the 2008 campaign, many of us in the "commentariat," including me, openly worried that occasional calls for violence at Palin rallies would lead to bloodshed. To his credit, Sen. John McCain eventually stepped in and called a halt. Since Obama's inauguration, there have been many signs that threats to public officials have been rising.
All of this should be the subject of renewed "soul-searching", as Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik called for in the midst of the carnage. So should the continued, easy access to guns in this country -- something we have fretted about for years but haven't resolved. How can it be that a young man with so many signs of derangement as Loughner could purchase a very dangerous 9 mm Glock handgun less than a month ago -- and legally?
Too many times in our history, assassins have struck down our leaders with guns. Four presidents have died at the hands of gunmen -- Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley and Kennedy. Four other presidents have narrowly escaped -- FDR, Truman, Ford and Reagan. Gunmen have also taken the lives of some who have served in Congress.
And now we have Gabrielle Giffords, apparently the first female member of Congress who has been shot, courageously fighting for her life. Six others are dead. This is not a moment to point fingers and make accusations. But it is a time to pray for the victims -- and to pledge to each other that we will struggle for a more civil and decent America.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of David Gergen.
January 9th, 2011
McCarthy ran for Congress after her husband was gunned down and her son seriously injured in a shooting in 1993 on a Long Island commuter train.
“My staff is working on looking at the different legislation fixes that we might be able to do and we might be able to introduce as early as tomorrow,” McCarthy told POLITICO in a Sunday afternoon phone interview.
Gun control activists cried it was time to reform weapons laws in the United States, almost immediately after a gunman killed six and injured 14 more, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, in Arizona on Saturday.
Many said that people with a history of mental instability, like the alleged shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, should not be able to buy a gun — and no one should be able to buy stockpiles of ammunition used by the 22-year-old assailant.
McCarthy said she plans to confer with House Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to see “if we can work something through” in the coming week.
McCarthy’s bill will look to protect ordinary people, she said, but did not offer further details.
“Again, we need to look at how this is going to work, to protect people, certainly citizens, and we have to look at what I can pass,” she said. “I don’t want to give the NRA – excuse the pun – the ammunition to come at me either.”
Pennsylvania Rep. Robert Brady, a Democrat from Philadelphia, told CNN that he also plans to take legislative action. He will introduce a bill that would make it a crime for anyone to use language or symbols that could be seen as threatening or violent against a federal official, including a member of Congress.
Another vocal supporter for gun control, Illinois Rep. Mike Quigley, told POLITICO that he hopes “something good” can come from the Arizona tragedy – perhaps discussion on a new assault weapon ban, sales at gun shows and tracing measures.
Loughner legally purchased his weapon – a Glock 19 with an extended magazine – from an Arizona store. The same kind of extended magazine was illegal under the assault weapons ban that expired in 2004.
“The ability to buy a weapon that fires hundreds of bullets in less than a minute,” said Quigley. “He had an additional magazine capability. That’s not what a hunter needs. That’s not what someone needs to defend their home. That’s what you use to hunt people.”
After the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007, in which a student with a history of psychological problems killed 33 and injured 25 others, lawmakers immediately started looking at gun control reforms both in the state and atthe federal level.
Then-Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine issued an executive order making it harder for people who have been committed to mental health treatment centers to buy a gun.
In 2008 President George W. Bush signed a law expanding the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which registered gun dealers use, to include more comprehensive reporting of mental health records. Under the current law, it is illegal for anyone who has been “adjudicated as a mental defective or committed to a mental institution” to purchase a firearm, according to the FBI’s website.
However, Loughner did not fall into either of those categories, according to Josh Horwitz, the executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.
“I’ve seen no evidence that he falls into those categories. It’s the same thing as this guy at Virginia Tech,” said Horwitz. “We can do a much better job checking people’s mental health background.”
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