Archive for Maryland

Freddie Gray family attorney praises judge who ruled cop not guilty

Freddie Gray

Officer Edward Nero was found not guilty on all four charges against him (related to the death of Freddie Gray) today in Baltimore City Circuit Court.

Nero was charged with two counts of misconduct in office in addition to the charges of second-degree assault and reckless endangerment.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said the Baltimore Police Department would conduct an administrative review before he could return to work. A city police spokesman confirmed the review while the City Police Commissioner, Kevin Davis, called for “respect and reverence” for the judge’s verdict.

Rep. Elijah Cummings also issued a statement calling on city residents to trust the judicial system.

Full statement of Freddie Gray family attorney

Billy Murphy, attorney for Freddie Gray’s family,   issued the following statement:

“I’m very proud of Judge Williams standing head and shoulders above most people. Under similar circumstances, he may have bent to the pressure, tremendous pressure, to do in this case what the black community wanted him to do. So my hat’s off to him.

“Both sides did an excellent job presenting their cases. The standard of proof in these kinds of cases is enormous – it’s proof beyond a reasonable doubt. And Judge Williams clearly articulated why he had reasons to doubt whether the evidence was sufficient for a conviction. And he did it in a very workmanlike, thorough manner so that there would be no doubt about why he felt that Officer Nero’s guilt had not been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

“I don’t think this has a thing to do with the other cases. And Judge Williams was very careful in limiting his ruling to this case and this case only. And he said that from the outset, and also spoke from the way that he analyzed the facts.

“There are five other cases. Let’s be calm and patient to determine their outcome before we have any further to do about this matter. What we do know here is that he heard all of the evidence presented, he considered it all – both those facts that were in favor of the state, those facts that were in the favor of the defense – and he ruled in accordance with the law in a way that only the judge who could hear all of the evidence and knows all of the law could do. And again I commend him for not bending to public opinion, whether it came from either the white or the black community.”

Catholic graduation speaker is Planned Parenthood supporter

graduation

In the April 2016 edition of The Bulletin of Notre Dame of Maryland University (NDMU), President Marylou Yam announced the commencement speaker for graduation exercises this Sunday May 22, 2016, would be Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen. Dr. Wen, pictured at left in blue holding the sign, will receive an honorary degree from the university.

A few sentences on Dr. Wen’s biographical data is included. Areas focused on include her work with youth health and wellness, opioid overdose prevention, and violence prevention.

Some of Dr. Wen’s other advocacy work, that goes against Catholic teaching, remains unmentioned:

  1. She is a supporter of federal funding for Planned Parenthood and wrote that the group is “saving lives”
  2. She is health commissioner in a city that has taken action to persecute pro-life pregnancy centers.
  3. She has been praised by the local NARAL director and the director of the Baltimore Abortion Fund.
  4. She supports giving contraceptives to elementary school students at city schools without their parents’ consent.
  5. She wrote that physician-assisted suicide is an “important aspect of care” and that “assisted death” is “compassionate.”

If you want to let Dr. Marylou Yam know what you think about Dr. Leana Wen being honored by NDMU, you can email her at  or call her office at 410-532-5300.

She was appointed to her post by Mayor Stephanie-Rawlings Blake in late 2014. Rawlings-Blake has been a long-time friend of both Planned Parenthood and NARAL. As City Council President, Rawlings-Blake introduced legislation regulating pro-life pregnancy centers that became law. The law required the centers to post signage saying that they did not provide referrals for abortions or face penalties. The Greater Baltimore Center for Pregnancy Concerns filed a federal lawsuit. The law is not currently being enforced until the matter is settled.

Dr. Wen’s City Department of Health falls under the purview of Deputy Mayor Dawn Kirstaetter. Kirstaetter served as the executive director of a Berea, Kentucky affiliate of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. She was also President of the Kentucky Association of Planned Parenthood Affiliates.

On September 29, 2015, Wen made a Facebook post that included several pictures (including the one above) showing her at a rally in support of Planned Parenthood in downtown Baltimore.

Her message read (emphasis added):

As a doctor, I applaud Planned Parenthood for improving health and saving lives. As a public health leader, I join officials across Maryland including Congressman Van Hollen, State Senator Nathan-Pulliam, and Delegate Rosenberg to #‎standwithPP. As a woman and a citizen, I am proud to stand strong for ‪#‎pinkoutday to support reproductive rights.

In June 2015, she wrote a letter to Members of Congress asking them not to cut funding to Title X programs including Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider. Wen said the cuts “would have grave impacts on Baltimore’s public health.”

Dr. Wen was praised by the director of NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland and the board president of the Baltimore Abortion Fund in a letter to the editor in The Baltimore Sun in June 2015. The writers thanked Wen for increasing the availability of contraceptives in city schools. They also chastised City Councilman Carl Stokes, who compared offering Norplant and Nexplanon in city schools to the Tuskegee syphilis experiment.  Stokes also was criticized in the letter for calling the issue of giving out contraceptives without parental consent a violation of parents’ rights.

That letter came after a news story that Wen’s health department had started implanting Nexplanon in girls at health centers in Baltimore City Schools. Nexplanon is a long-acting reversible contraceptive (LARC) like Norplant. Baltimore City Schools were the first in the nation to provide Norplant for students in the 1980s.

LARCs are not the only contraceptives being distributed at the health centers in city schools. Condoms, oral birth control pills, Ortho Evra patches, Depo-Provera shots, NuvaRing, and Plan B are also available in the school-based health centers.

Despite claims to the contrary by some activists, the Food & Drug Administration requires labeling for Plan B to note that the “morning-after pill” as it is known can inhibit ovulation or implantation. NuvaRing has been the subject of controversy and lawsuits related to pulmonary embolisms that led to the disabling and death of women using it.

African-American ministers have also been critical of the Implantation of Norplant and Nexplanon in Baltimore City schools. One of them, Rev. Gregory Perkins, even made allegations of racism and asked why African-American girls were being targeted.

Dr. Leana Wen is also well-known for starting “Who’s My Doctor?” which advocates for the Total Transparency Initiative. Among other things, this initiative wants doctors to disclose information about payments from pharmaceutical companies and other sources of potential conflicts of interest.

One author writing for Forbes was critical of the part of that initiative that asks doctors do disclose their political viewpoints. Wen responded with a list of views on healthcare issues that were all that was included in that disclosure. Two of them were “end-of-life care” and  “women’s health.” We already know that Dr. Wen advocates for positions against church teachings on women’s health. In 2006, Leana Wen was president of the American Medical Association. She made a statement then that “physician-assisted suicide is an important aspect of care” and that “assisted death is an extension of compassionate medical care.”

Despite her advocacy for positions against church teachings, Dr. Leana Wen is scheduled to receive an honorary degree and speak at commencement exercises on the morning of May 22, 2016 at Royal Farms Arena

NDMU was founded by the School Sisters of Notre Dame in 1873. It became the first Catholic four-year college for women in 1896.

Other graduation speakers at Catholic schools

The University of Notre Dame in Indiana was criticized for plans to honor Vice President Joe Biden at its commencement this  year. After the controversy ensued, former House Speaker Boehner was also invited as a joint recipient of the Laetare Award. Previously. the school in Indiana was criticized for honoring President Barack Obama at its graduation.

The Cardinal Newman Society has more on Catholic colleges and their graduation speakers.

Kasich event with Bob Ehrlich likely off

KasichAccording to reports, John Kasich is making some sort of announcement in Columbus this afternoon, presumably about the suspension of his campaign. He also cancelled a planned press conference at Dulles International Airport in northern Virginia.

I would presume that means tonight’s fundraiser hosted by former Maryland Gov. Bob Ehrlich for the Kasich campaign in Annapolis is cancelled. If not, it likely means Kasich just won’t be there and Ehrlich will be the big draw (ha!).

The event was scheduled to be at the Crowne Plaza with a roundtable starting at 5:30 p.m., a VIP photo op reception from 6:00-6:30, and a general reception from 6:30-7:30. Ticket prices were set at $2700 for the roundtable, $1000 for the VIP photo op reception, and $250 for the general reception.

More details were posted on the Maryland for Kasich Facebook page:

kasich ehrlich

There has been no update on the Maryland for Kasich Facebook page and nothing at all on events anywhere is listed on the campaign website.

Irrelevant: John Kasich and Bob Ehrlich

Before his endorsement of Kasich, Ehrlich was stuck doing fundraisers for people like Pat McDonough. Ehrlich’s star has fallen quickly since his 2010 loss.

In early 2014, Ehrlich told Richard Sher he would be the last Republican governor elected in Maryland.

Just a few months later, Larry Hogan was elected and Ehrlich’s position as the senior elected official in the party evaporated overnight.

Ehrlich has struggled to sell books since he left office and he toyed with running for President even though one analyst referred to him as a seventh-tier candidate ahead of the campaign cycle.

His irrelevance continued into the 2016 primaries with his advocacy for Kasich who never was really an option for most Maryland Republican voters until the field narrowed to Kasich, Cruz, and Trump. At least Ehrlich has a nice cushy lobbying job and doesn’t have to rely on book sales to put food on the table.

 

Report: Clemson “hate crime” possibly a hoax

Clemson BananasA picture emerged last month showing rotting bananas hanging on a sign about African-Americans at Fort Hill. Clemson University is built on the land that was John C. Calhoun’s Fort Hill after a bequest from his son-in-law Thomas Green Clemson.

It’s not clear who put the bananas there, but outrage ensued, as an Associated Press story details. The AP story discusses a sit-in by black students and fthen tries to smear Clemson’s response to the Emmanuel AME shootings in Charleston by saying the wreaths honoring the victims were in a location that Tillman Hall could be seen from. There has been a move by some faculty to change the name of that building.

One of the organizers of the sit-in with See the Stripes even tried to say Dylann Roof, the Charleston shooter, would have been a Tillman supporter. The AP story by Jeffrey Collins only refers to one arrest. At the time, South Carolina blog FITSnews had little other details either.

However, last week FITSnews broached the subject of whether the whole thing was a hoax. A roundup of what happened:

There were sit-ins, hunger strikes, campus-wide protests, a Selma-style march, obligatory “arrests” – and of course doleful hand-wringing from the government-run institution’s “higher educrats.”  Also, fresh rounds of “diversity and inclusivity training” were mandated for all students and faculty.

It was a Mini-Missouri, in other words …

FITSnews also reported that there appeared to be a hoax and a cover-up going on:

Clemson University president James Clements claimed on April 11 that the school was “investigating” the banana-hanging incident – and university officials told local media that same day they hoped surveillance videos would assist them in identifying the guilty party.

Nearly three weeks later, though, nothing …

Some might use this opportunity to shoot the messenger of FITSnews and Will Folks. However, an editorial appeared on his site today by six Clemson students that examine the incident and investigation in-depth in their own words.

From the editorial

Since campus wide unrest was the direct result of the four bananas being hung it seems natural to ask who hung the bananas and what their motivations were.  The Clemson administration knows the answers to these questions, but has not revealed them.  The only thing most people on campus are aware of is the suspicious behavior and activity from the administration and the student protest leaders.

This leads to more questions than answers.

Some of the questions and issues they raise include:

  • When it was pointed out that the 5 students protesting were violating the code of conduct, the administration cited them for trespassing with rumors indicating it was all pre-planned after administrators met with the protesters.
  • Alesia Smith, who serves as director of the Office of Community and Ethical Standards on campus, is the mother of one of the Clemson 5 protesters while also being in charge of investigating them. According to the students writing the op-ed, she “refused to admit” there was a conflict of interest but then later said she had recused herself.
  • No charges have been brought against the known person who placed the bananas and no information on motive or any personally identifying information has been released. However, someone who posted a racist message to the Yik Yak app was publicly identified.
  • There are also questions about the picture itself.

The picture’s provenance and the chain of evidence are questioned by the students writing the editorial (emphasis added)

Finally, only one picture exists of the bananas at all.  Who took this picture?  When did the bananas come down?  Who took them down?  In the police report it is noted that an email was sent to the University police.  Who sent this email?  The individual who is cited in the school newspaper as taking the picture of the bananas, posted the picture two hours after the social media account of “See the Stripes”- the group that organized the Sikes Sit In protest – had posted the image to begin a viral hashtag campaign.

The six students call on Clemson administrators to act:

The university must act quickly and decisively to resolve these questions; they cannot remain silent any longer.  As students, we are hurt by this administration’s failure to protect our reputation, and we expect that they will do what is right and reveal the truth.

If it turns out that the person who placed the bananas did so with racist intentions, then he or she should be held responsible.  If this is not the case, then the administration has willingly participated in a smear campaign against the student body.  The administration must make right the lies that have been told, and make open the information which has been kept secret.

Of course, the only reason I’m writing this is a wave of fake hate crimes over the past few years.

Clemson Wouldn’t Be Only Recent “Hate Crime” Hoax

Most recently, students from the State University of New York at Albany were indicted for perpetrating a hoax. The women claimed they were assaulted by 10-12 white men hurling racial slurs at them on a bus. Hillary Clinton came to their defense on twitter. However, the audio and video from surveillance footage on the bus proved they made it all up. They were indicted and are now headed to court because they refused to accept a plea deal that would require their apologies.

Last month, a drawing of a noose with a racial slur and #whitepower hashtag was made on a whiteboard at Salisbury University on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. After investigating, it was determined the drawing was made by black students. Police declined to press charges.

According to one report, there have been over 100 hate crime hoaxes in the past 10 years. Another report details all the cases in 2015 alone.

Universities are good at covering things up and Clemson is no exception. This situation needs to be resolved publicly.

MD woman charged in Snapchat stabbing

snapchatOn Thursday 4/21, the Aberdeen Police Department announced they were looking for a suspect in a stabbing of a 17-year old juvenile during an “altercation” about Snapchat that took place Wednesday (4/20/16) evening.

The victim was transported to Johns Hopkins Bayview and was in stable condition the next day.

The Baltimore Sun reported earlier today (Friday) that the stabbing was related to an argument over Snapchat and that a suspect was arrested on 4/28/16. The suspect who was arrested is Gabrielle Joyner of Havre de Grace. Joyner was charged with attempted murder (both first and second degree), reckless endangerment, and charges relating to possessing a concealed weapon and a dangerous weapon with intent to injure.

Specifically, The Sun reported:

The week-long investigation revealed that Joyner and the victim had argued over posts on the image messaging application “Snapchat” prior to the assault, police said. The argument was allegedly about Joyner’s boyfriend.