January 11th, 2011
Tucson, Arizona (CNN) -- Tucson just isn't that kind of town, says Christin Gilmer.
Gilmer is referring to the actions of Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas, which has made its name protesting the funerals of people who died of AIDS, gay people, soldiers and even Coretta Scott King.
But when the church announced its intention to picket the funeral of a 9-year-old girl -- one of six people who died Saturday during the attempted assassination of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords -- Gilmer and others put their feet down.
Tucson is a "caring, loving, peaceful community," according to Gilmer, who said two of the six people killed were friends.
"For something like this to happen in Tucson was a really big shock to us all," she said. "Our nightmare happened when we saw Westboro Baptist Church was going to picket the funerals."
They're planning an "angel action" -- with 8- by 10-foot "angel wings" worn by participants and used to shield mourners from pickets. The actions were created by Coloradan Romaine Patterson, who was shocked to find the Topeka church and its neon signs outside the 1999 funeral of Matthew Shepherd, a young gay man beaten and left on a fence to die in Laramie, Wyoming.
"We want to surround them, in a nonviolent way, to say that our community is united," Gilmer said. "We're a peaceful haven.
"You don't mess with Tucson," said Gilmer, 26, who described it as "a little dot of blue in a sea of red."
But political persuasions don't matter, she said. Republicans, Democrats, independents, right, left and center -- they've all offered their support. Forty-two people have signed up on a Facebook page called "Build Angel Wings for the Westboro Funeral Counter-Protest and Meeting," and more than 4,500 have signed up on another page to "Show Support for the Families of the Tucson Shooting Victims."
"People, businesses, they're all donating material and money to build the angel wings," said Gilmer, who is helping organize the action. She added they're donating to a fund created to help pay for services for the shooting victims.
Chelsea Cohen, a 20-year-old senior at the University of Arizona who launched the "Show Support" Facebook page, said she never expected such a response.
"Once I heard that the Westboro Baptist Church was coming, I felt like something should be done to show support for the families," she said. "I don't have any experience in organizing these things. I thought I might get 50 to 100 people."
Cohen said she thinks many of the 4,500 people who've signed up on the Facebook page will be there "in spirit" Thursday when mourners gather for the funeral of Christina Taylor Green, who was born on September 11, 2001. But she added, Tucson is an active town, and the response isn't likely to be small.
"This isn't a counterprotest," she said. "We wanted it to show support for the families and to show that Tucson is there with love and support."
They don't want to interfere with the funeral in any way, Cohen said.
"We plan on being completely silent, and we're asking people not to bring signs or make comments about the Westboro Baptist Church," she said.
The angels will be doing the same thing.
"We're going to silently stand there so people can mourn the death of a 9-year-old girl who died in a senseless tragedy," Gilmer said.
Cohen said several groups are planning to be at the funeral to show their support, and there is an effort afoot to bring them all together "into one group so we can all be on the same page."
"I hope that everyone there can convey the peaceful message that we want to convey, she said
And if the church pickets persist, the silent supporters will be on hand for the funerals of U.S. District Judge John Roll, Gabriel Zimmerman, Dorothy Morris, Dorwin Stoddard and Phyllis Schneck, the other five victims of Saturday's shooting. Giffords, who was shot in the head and is in critical condition, and 13 other people were wounded.
Westboro Baptist Church, founded by its spiritual leader, Fred Phelps, and run mostly by family members, did not respond to a request for an interview in time for this article. But a flier released by the church about the picket targets the Roman Catholic Church because Christina and her family were members.
"God hates Catholics!" the flier, posted on the church's "God Hates Fags" website, says. "God calls your religion 'vain,' as it's empty of His truth; you worship idols!"
January 10th, 2011
By Holly Bailey
Within an hour of Saturday's tragic shooting in Arizona, the Twittersphere had quickly seized on a map put out by Sarah Palin's political action committee last year that had gun-sight images over the congressional districts of House Democrats she wanted to win for the GOP in 2010.
Among her targets: Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, who was critically wounded by a gunman Saturday. His motives, authorities say, are not fully known. But friends of the suspect, Jared Loughner, have suggested that he had held a grudge for at least three years against Giffords dating back to when he met her in 2007.
Still, some believe that incendiary rhetoric like Palin's bears some responsibility in the tragedy. Giffords herself had previously raised concerns about Palin's map: "The way that she has it depicted has the cross hairs of a gun sight over our district. When people do that, they have got to realize there are consequences to that action."
[Photos: Nation mourns the tragedy in Arizona]
On Sunday,the Senate's No. 2 Democrat, Dick Durbin, cited the Palin map as a sign of the "toxic rhetoric" that has come to define national politics in recent years. He said he was not making a direct connection between Palin and the shootings.
Palin offered her condolences after the massacre Saturday in a brief message on Facebook and has said little else of it. But she did email conservative radio host Glenn Beck, who read part of their exchange on the air Monday morning, per Politico's Keach Hagey. "I hate violence," Palin wrote Beck. "I hate war. Our children will not have peace if politicos just capitalize on this to succeed in portraying anyone as inciting terror and violence."
[Related: The intern who helped save Giffords' life]
Still, Palin has become a focal point in the debate over heated rhetoric, and her response is likely to be a defining moment in her political career. One informal but telling sign of the potential stakes for Palin: According to Facebook, the top question dominating debate on the site over the weekend was "Is Sarah Palin to blame?"
So far, Palin's team, angry that the former governor is being linked to the shooting, has struggled to contain the controversy. On Saturday, the map citing Giffords was abruptly pulled from the SarahPAC site — even though it remained on Facebook. Rebecca Mansour, a Palin aide, said on Twitter that the map was pulled because it "was no longer relevant" since the 2010 campaign was over.
In a subsequent interview with GOP radio host Tammy Bruce, Mansour defended the map. They weren't gun sights but "surveyor's symbols," Bruce suggested, according to Alaska Dispatch, and Mansour agreed. But that contradicted Palin's own prior characterization of the map's symbol as a "'bullseye' icon."
According to Alaska Dispatch, Mansour said attempts to link Palin to the shooting were "obscene" and "appalling." She said there was "nothing irresponsible about our graphic."
Palin is hardly the first politician to use gun or military imagery in campaigning. As the Palin's supporters on the right noted, even President Obama has used similar metaphors, telling Democratic donors in 2008, "If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun." And Palin's former running mate, Arizona GOP Sen. John McCain, had defended Palin's call for followers to "reload" as they rallied to capture Congress. "I've heard all of the language throughout my political career," he said.
But the bigger question is whether Palin will seek to passionately defend her comments and political ground — as she has been known to do during past controversies — or whether she, like other political figures in recent days, will urge her supporters to cool the rhetoric.
As Politico's Jonathan Martin says: "Whether she defends, explains or even responds at all to the intense criticism of her brand of confrontational politics could well determine her trajectory on the national scene — and it's likely to reveal the scope of her ambitions as well."
(Photo of Palin: Jae C. Hong/AP)
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January 10th, 2011
"We don't have weather events like this," Mayor Kasim Reed said on CNN in Atlanta, where about five inches of snow has fallen. "I think the amount of snow we're getting is probably a 10-year event for the city."
The governors of Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Tennessee declared states of emergencies. Schools, businesses and government offices are closed, and at least two deaths, both in Louisiana, are being blamed on the storm.
More than 2,000 flights were canceled on Monday as a result of the storm pummeling the Southeast, most of them into and out of Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson, the nation's busiest airport, according to the tracking company, FlightAware.
Hartsfield-Jackson was open Monday morning but with limited service. AirTran Airways canceled all 376 Monday flights to and from its Atlanta hub. Delta Air Lines canceled about 1,450 flights, spokesman Anthony Black said.
"We're running a limited operation (at Hartsfield-Jackson) today and we expect that to continue throughout the afternoon and evening," Black said. "We're urging customers to go to Delta.com to check on the status of their flight."
The bullseye for snow totals, Weather Channel meteorologist Mark Ressler says, has been northern Alabama and southern Tennessee. In Alabama, Muscle Shoals has received 10 inches and Huntsville about 8 inches. In Tennessee, the small towns of Minor (13 inches) and Pulaski (11 inches) have seen the most snow.
Energy from this storm will combine with another one currently in the Plains to deliver more snow later Tuesday and into Wednesday to the northern Mid-Atlantic and New England, Ressler reports. New York City could see a foot of snow, while some parts of New England could see blizzard conditions. Snow totals could approach two feet.
Southerners are not used to the kinds of driving conditions caused by the storm that rolled in Sunday night and coated bridges and roads with snow, sleet and freezing rain. Many drivers simply abandoned their vehicles alongside roads in the Atlanta area.
Parts of the region could be in for more traffic nightmares. By midmorning Monday, the snow had ended in the Atlanta area and was replaced by freezing rain and sleet, said Vaughn Smith, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
"We're expecting up to ¼ inch of accumulation of ice on top of what we've already got," he said.
Temperatures in Atlanta and North Georgia were not expected to rise above freezing until midday Tuesday, meaning treacherous driving conditions are expected through the Tuesday morning rush hour.
In Georgia, officials in Conyers, a suburb in east metropolitan Atlanta, closed Interstate 20 in both directions because of dangerous driving conditions. DOT spokesman David Spear said such closures are short-lived "until we can get an incident cleared."
Elsewhere, several vehicles, including a Greyhound bus, are stranded on Interstate 75. The Georgia Department of Transportation is warning motorists that if they do go out to be prepared to stay in their vehicles in case they break down or slip off the road.
In Alabama, the Montgomery and Huntsville airports have re-opened, said Jennifer Ardis, Gov. Bob Riley's deputy press secretary.
• Winter storm-related fatalities were reported in Shreveport and Monroe, La., even though storm conditions in the state were not as bad as expected, said Lt. Julie Lewis, a Louisiana State Police spokeswoman.
"What was initially predicted sounded a whole lot worse than what we got," she said. "We have icing on bridges and elevated overpasses, but nothing severe, nothing like what we saw in 2000. As far as I know, all the main roadways and all the major thoroughfares are open."
— A record 5.7 inches of snow fell in Little Rock, part of preciptation that rendered many roads impassable. State troopers reported thick ice on Interstate 55 in northeast Arkansas and similar conditions on Interstate 40 in western Arkansas near Ozark.
Gov. Mike Beebe allowed non-essential state employees to take the day off today because of icy, snowy roads.
— The Mississippi Department of Transportation reported icy accumulation on bridges and roads in Warren, Yazoo, Issaquena, Sharkey, Humphreys, Holmes, Washington, Sunflower and Bolivar counties. MDOT is urging people to stay home unless they have to travel.
— Snow halted traffic on Interstate 40 near the North Carolina-Tennessee line.
Brooks Gaynes, owner of Danny's Towing in North Carolina, said she'd had only a few calls from motorists "probably because we had so much snow they stayed off the road this time." But she said tractor trailers on I-40 about 25 miles east of the Tennessee line were keeping her busy.
Western North Carolina has had up to a foot of snow in places. Fletcher, N.C., has gotten about six inches. "The roads are slick underneath that snow. It's really slippery," said Ron Ratkowski of the Fletcher Fire Department. "The best advice is to stay at home, relax and have a cup of coffee."
Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport had no departures Monday morning, after many carriers decided not to bring in planes the previous night because of the coming storm. A trickle of flights began to land and take off later in the morning.
"It's been sporadic during the day, but with the airlines holding back on flights, we took the opportunity to get our airfield ready for when they were ready to operate," said Dave Edwards, the airport's executive director.
Contributing: Associated Press; Jon Ostendorff, The Asheville Citizen-Times; Charisse Jones and Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
January 10th, 2011
In this video from Fox news, Megyn Kelly Takes to task the Pima County Sheriff who appears to be blaming the right-wing due to "vitriole" from individuals over Healthcare, immigration and other political hot buttons.
We have heard members of the media and certain politicians blaming the citizens who are actively engaged in questioning their Governance over the course of America and what many consider to be harmful changes.
The Sheriff talks of free speech on the one hand and then criticizes it on the other--even while he appears to be exercizing his free speech in critique of other Americans.
Does the Sheriff think that America should just hush and disengage? Does one madman with a gun shutdown conversation between the various ideologies?
Ultimately, it inceasingly appears that the Media vilifies the right when in fact the shooter appears to be a denizen of the radical left as with most other cases of terrorism (jihadism included) in the past 12 months.
January 10th, 2011
Seemingly harmless information can help ID thieves unlock key to your identity.
Marketwatch by Jennifer Waters
by Jennifer Waters
You may think you're revealing precious little when you tell your Facebook friends that you're dressing your pooch, Puddles, in your favorite color, red, for brunch at Grandma's on Sunday. But you've actually just opened a Pandora's box of risks.
The information consumers willingly, and often unwittingly, post on social-media websites can be a gold mine for fraudsters looking to steal everything from your flat-screen TV to your identity.
What's more, tidbits like your birth date, birthplace and the last school you attended are typically the challenge questions posed by bank websites and online retailers to verify your identity.
"Despite all the awareness that people have about identity fraud and privacy on social networks, there is a disconnect between [that and what they are] disclosing in online space and social environments," said Thomas Oscherwitz, chief privacy officer for ID Analytics, a San Diego-based consumer risk management firm.
More than 24 million Americans 18 years old and older are still leaving their social-network profiles mostly public, meaning they aren't activating privacy controls that limit who can see their information online, according to a Harris Interactive survey conducted in October for ID Analytics.
The survey also found that nearly 70 million U.S. adults on social-networking sites include their birthplace — one of the most common security questions asked by financial institutions — on their profiles.
"The information people are disclosing is not the entire piece of the puzzle but it's certainly helpful," Oscherwitz said. Thieves steal identities in pieces, he said, and layer them on each other for a clearer picture.
Say you post on a social-media site that you're at a tanning salon ahead of your week-long trip to the Bahamas the day after your birthday. You're telling potential burglars that not only are you away from home for an hour or so, but beginning Tuesday, your home likely will be empty for seven days.
"Even listing daily activities can let strangers know your routine and put you at risk," said Gail Cunningham, spokeswoman for the National Foundation of Credit Counseling.
Too much information can hurt you in other ways. John Sileo, a Denver-based identify-theft expert, said your online chatter could equip an ex-spouse with ammunition for a court challenge. Future or current employers could have a problem with information about your personal life that they deem inappropriate for a member of their staff, he said.
You also could be furnishing a would-be stalker with information about your whereabouts. "We are giving people the little pieces of our trust or access to our trust that allows them to get bigger things out of us," said Sileo, founder of the ThinkLikeaSpy.com newsletter.
Tips to Stay Safe
Here's some advice from Sileo, who wrote the "Facebook Safety Survival Guide," about protecting online privacy on all social-networking sites:
• Never post your exact date and place of birth. It's invaluable information to identity thieves, particularly when the two are bundled together.
• Never post your address, phone number or email address. This is plum information to scammers and marketers who are looking for nuggets of your identity.
• Control who can see your personal information. Many social-networking sites have privacy features, but they change often. Know what they are, stay on top of them and restrict your page to your real friends, not friends of friends or someone you met in a bar.
• Limit information about your activities. If you must brag about a trip or a fabulous party, do it after the fact.
• Remember that what you post is public and permanent. Don't put up embarrassing photos that you wouldn't show your grandmother. Don't complain about your job or your boss. Don't say something to or about someone that you wouldn't say to his face. Don't threaten others.
• Know the four types of Facebook users: friends, outsiders, businesses and enemies.
• You should know exactly who wants to be your friend or is asking you to link into their network. Some people will befriend your friends to get to you or your company.
• Be wary of seemingly harmless quizzes. When someone invites you to take a survey, say, "10 Things Others Don't Know About You" or "My Favorite Things," it may be designed to harvest your data. The name of the street you grew up on or your favorite vacation spot could be clues to your passwords.
• Before you share any information anywhere online about yourself or your workplace, ask this question: What would the consequences be if this information fell into the hands of my boss, competitor or people who don't like me?
Jennifer Waters is a MarketWatch reporter, based in Chicago.