Thursday, December 06, 2012

Those who forgive killers

SEE "Rais Bhuiyan and the power of forgiveness by a Rabbi here:

Also see items by Debbie Cuevas Morris who was influenced by Sister Helen Prejean's teachings on forgiveness (I was moved by her writing in a woman's magazine years ago where she (Debbie) said something like: Mercy did much more for me than justice ever did. I have seen/heard this truth born out time again as I've been with other victim family & friends.

From a summary on Debbie Morris's book: "Forgiving Dead Man Walking":

It was just another time of enjoying milkshakes and small talk. Neither Debbie Cuevas nor her boyfriend, Mark Brewster, gave much thought to the white pickup truck that had pulled up beside them on the riverfront. Until . . . a revolver thrust through the driver's window . . . a hand jerked Debbie's head back and a voice said, 'Don't do anything stupid' . . . and a quiet Friday evening abruptly became a nightmare. For the first time, here is the untold other half of Dead Man Walking, the movie that depicted killer Robert Willie's death-row relationship with spiritual advisor Helen Prejean. Now the woman whose testimony helped send Willie to the electric chair tells her side of the story--the side America hasn't heard. In gripping detail, Debbie Morris--formerly Debbie Cuevas--recounts her hours of terror . . . and her years of walking an agonizing road back to wholeness. More than a riveting narrative, here is an incredible tale of courage, faith, and forgiveness. In a world where all of us struggle sooner or later with unforgiveness, Debbie Morris is a living testimony to the grace we long for: grace that shines more brightly than we dare believe, bright enough to triumph over the darkest evil.

You may also want to see the following:

Hopefully, readers won't be put off by me not linking occasionally.  This may make it easier for you to pass on some items....

Monday, November 26, 2012

Rais Bhuyan: Journey of Hope Profile


Rais Bhuiyan

Rais was shot in the face by Mark Stroman, who was on killing spree after 9/11 due to a vision of he was seeking revenge. When Stroman was facing an execution date Rais helped collecting signatures on a petition asking the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to commute Stroman's sentece into life in prison without parole.

Journey Board member since 2011

Find links to the following:

Rais story at Execution Chronicles

A victim of 9/11 hate crime now fights for his attacker's life

The Hated and the Hater, Both Touched by Crime

I was raised very well by my parents and teachers. They raised me with good morals and strong faith. They taught me to put yourself in others' shoes. Even if they hurt you, don't take revenge. Forgive them. Move on. It will bring something good to you and them. My Islamic faith teaches me this too. He said he did this as an act of war and a lot of Americans wanted to do it but he had the courage to do it -- to shoot Muslims. After it happened I was just simply struggling to survive in this country. I decided that forgiveness was not enough. That what he did was out of ignorance. I decided I had to do something to save this person's life. That killing someone in Dallas is not an answer for what happened on Sept. 11.

To click on the above links, simply GO here

Thanx for coming by...

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Postive Update from Death Penalty Focus

I'll be honest, these past few days haven't been easy. Last week, California's Proposition 34 lost by a narrow margin at the ballot box. I know you have shared in our disappointment, but now we're dusting ourselves off and getting back to work.

Though the results were not what we hoped for, I cannot express strongly enough just how far we've come. In 1978, California reinstated the death penalty with 71% of the vote. This time, that number was less than 53%. What's more - over 4.5 million people voted to replace the death penalty! This dramatic shift in opinion happened because of the fabulous volunteers who spent so many evenings and weekends knocking on doors, calling voters, and talking to friends and family about the death penalty. You are the reason that we have changed so many minds and gained so much support. Thank you!

This campaign ended with very strong momentum, and now we must grow that momentum even more. That's why we need your continued support in this effort. We know what it takes to win, and we're ready to continue educating every person we can about the risks and costs of the death penalty. Are you in?

In solidarity,

Ana Zamora
Program Director

Friday, November 09, 2012

Why we should execute gun violence -- NOT people

This topic is meant to be a discussion let's talk about this here on the Journey blog...

comment below...anonymous will be accepted as long as courtesy is shown to the reader...

Also, plz see the post just below for a starter...



Help End Gun Violence (Mayors Against Illegal Guns)

received 9 November 2012

Demand a Plan:

Now that President Obama has won a second term, I am waiting to hear his plan to stop Americans from being murdered with guns.

At the second presidential debate, I asked the candidates how they would keep dangerous people from getting guns. At the same time, Officer Arthur Lopez was on duty at the debate venue -- protecting the candidates.

Exactly one week later, just before his 30th birthday, Officer Lopez was shot and killed in the line of duty with an illegal gun.

If I could ask the President another question, I’d ask what he is going to do to keep illegal guns out of the hands of dangerous people like the one who killed Officer Lopez.

Please forward this email...

I’m asking for your help. For our mothers, our sisters, our daughters – and for the millions of American women who have looked at a loved one past the barrel of a gun.

Officer Lopez was the kind of man who lived to serve. He shoveled snow for his elderly neighbor and baked apple pies to welcome new people to the neighborhood. He was even decorated, twice, for saving lives in the line of duty.

Tragically, heroes like him are gunned down far too often in this country. For the first time in many years, more officers are being shot in the line of duty than killed in car accidents.

President Obama has the power to do something about it and save untold lives. Please join me and call on him to close the loopholes that let felons buy guns with no background checks and no questions asked.

Share Officer Lopez’s story ...and Demand A Plan to end gun violence.

Thank you for honoring Officer Lopez and all those killed with illegal guns by taking action.

Nina E. Gonzalez

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Support California Now!

The following graph may help readers in & out of California? Send to your California Contacts. Write your OWN letter to Editor in one or several of these news sources? Or use as a guideline for other states?

For an important article on California and the Death Penalty GO here
( Even for those who are on the fence, this article shows that voting to repeal the death penalty could save the state of California as any other state a HEAP of money.)

This just came in from Consumer WatchDog dot org via email...may not be on main website? Maybe you could send a letter to editor in these newspapers, call, or vote where appropriate?

Election Day is now just 2 days away. As a public service, we are sending you the positions of the major newspaper editorial boards on all the California ballot measures. Consumer Watchdog does not endorse these editorial positions. We are simply offering them to you, along with links to the original editorials, so that you can do your own research and make your own decisions.

Some of our supporters have asked if Consumer Watchdog has taken positions on any measures...

Ballot Measure Scorecard: Editorial Board Positions On CA Propositions
Newspaper Prop
30 Prop
31 Prop
32 Prop
33 Prop
34 Prop
35 Prop
36 Prop
37 Prop
38 Prop
39 Prop
LA Daily News Y Y Y N Y Y Y N N N Y
LA Times Y N N N Y N Y N N Y Y
North County Times N N Y N Y Y Y N N Y
OC Register N N Y Y N Y Y N N N Y
Press-Enterprise N N Y N N N Y N N Y Y
Sac Bee Y N N N Y N Y N N Y Y
SD Union Tribune N Y Y N Y Y N N N Y
SF Chronicle Y Y N N Y Y Y N N N Y
SJ Mercury News Y Y N N Y Y Y N N Y Y
Ventura Co. Star Y N N N Y N N N N N Y

November 2012 Statewide Ballot Measure Titles

Proposition 30
Temporary Taxes to Fund Education. Guaranteed Local Public Safety Funding. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.

Proposition 31
State Budget. State and Local Government. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute.

Proposition 32
Political Contributions by Payroll Deduction. Contributions to Candidates. Initiative Statute.

Proposition 33
Auto Insurance Companies. Prices Based on Driver's History of Insurance Coverage. Initiative Statute.

Proposition 34
Death Penalty. Initiative Statute.

Proposition 35
Human Trafficking. Penalties. Initiative Statute.

Proposition 36
Three Strikes Law. Repeat Felony Offenders. Penalties. Initiative Statute.

Proposition 37
Genetically Engineered Foods. Labeling. Initiative Statute.

Proposition 38
Tax to Fund Education and Early Childhood Programs. Initiative Statute.

Proposition 39
Tax Treatment for Multistate Businesses. Clean Energy and Energy Efficiency Funding. Initiative Statute.

Proposition 40
Redistricting. State Senate Districts. Referendum.

We hope this is helpful to you. Good luck sorting through this year's lengthy ballot, and thanks for all your support.

Best wishes,

Jamie Court
President, Consumer Watchdog

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Dedication to a path of peace (by a man who's family was murdered)

Staff Photographer Bill Zars/ Daily Herald

Jeff Engelhardt advocates forgiveness, not death penalty

Originally found with 38 Comments here
Article updated: 1/25/2011 6:40 PM

On April 17, 2009, three members of my family were murdered.

My father, grandmother and 18-year-old sister were all stabbed to death in their own home. My mother was in critical condition and my older sister was left with her baby girl and the horrifying sights of what happened to her family.

I was feeling helpless, six hours away at Southern Illinois University.

It didn't take long for the assistant state's attorney to tell me they wanted to pursue the death penalty for the man accused of committing the terrible crime.

As the citizens of Illinois await the governor's decision on the death penalty, it has given me another opportunity to contemplate what I would want done in my situation.

I live with what happened every day and have mulled over what I would like to see become of the man I believe took my family away. My vision was blurred for a while, but the decision became very clear after I remembered where I came from.

I am no governor, but I am my father's son. And as my father's son, that means I choose the path of forgiveness.

This is not a call to repeal the death penalty. Rather this is a declaration of dedication to a path of peace.

I have a long, hard road ahead of me as my journey to forgiveness has just begun. If D'Andre Howard, the man charged with the killings, were sentenced to death and later executed, I could still complete my journey, but its potential would remain unfulfilled.

Because its potential could result in changing the heart and mind of the man who committed the heinous crime. And in turn, he might be able to change a few hearts of those with whom he must now associate.

To me, there is more value in saving a lost soul than sending it away.

Regardless of the future of the death penalty in this state, we can all try to forgive one another a little more and dedicate ourselves to a path of peace.

There are still days where I want the worst for D'Andre, but I keep a quote close with me to get me back on the right path:

“So, as I meditate, I breathe in all their poisons – hatred, fear, cruelty. Then I breathe out. And I let all the good things come out, things like compassion, forgiveness. I take inside my body all these bad things. Then I replace poisons with fresh air.”

If the man who said that, the Dalai Lama, can feel that much compassion after watching his people be killed and driven out of their country, I believe we can all be a little better to each other.

I realized that taking the life of the man who killed my father, grandmother and sister won't bring anyone back. So we should all make the most of the time we have with each other, even those who have wronged us. I want to try to make the most I can out of him while we're both here.

We're not all governors, but I'm my father's son and we're all brothers and sisters in this world, so let's do more to make it a better place.

Editor's note from 2011: Jeff Engelhardt is an intern in the Daily Herald's Springfield bureau and a graduate student at the University of Illinois-Springfield, enrolled in its Public Affairs Reporting program. He wrote the following essay about the proposed death penalty ban based on his personal experiences related to the stabbing deaths of his father, grandmother and sister in 2009 in their Hoffman Estates home. The ban is awaiting action — approval or veto — on Gov. Pat Quinn's desk.
Find Comments here and consider making a Comment here on The Journey of Hope blog just below...

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Death Penalty Doesn't Help Curb Crime (from Pakistan newspaper)

Found at by Peerzada Salman KARACHI, Oct 10:

The death penalty does not help eradicate crime from society. We need to change our social structure so that the crime rate could be brought down. Awarding capital punishment to criminals is not the solution to that end. This was argued by speakers at an event organised to observe the World Day against Death Penalty (Oct 10) by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan at the commission’s office on Wednesday.

HRCP Coordinator Syed Shamsuddin gave a brief background of the issue. He said in 2008, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution on a death penalty moratorium for which 106 countries voted in favour and 46 against.

Then amendments were proposed to the resolution for which 105 voted in favour while 48 decided in the negative. In Pakistan, there has been a moratorium on capital punishment for the past four years.

Research suggested poor and illiterate people were usually subjected to the death penalty; they were those individuals who could not afford a lawyer to fight their case.

Dr Sabir Michael said the above-mentioned moratorium was EU-driven. The basic philosophy behind it was that the right to life was a natural right. The question was what to do with those who took someone else’s lives.

He said crime could not be eradicated by the use of power. The crime rate in the countries where it had been abolished was much less. In order to rid society of crime and criminals, people’s mindset must be changed, education must be provided, tolerance must be preached and good governance must be ensured.

He argued that if a person killed someone it indicated inadequacy or inefficiency of law-enforcement agencies. The qisas and diyat system in Islam meant the death penalty was not inevitable, he said. Dr Michael pointed out crime was a product of a social environment where there was no rule of law. The death penalty inculcated fear in people but it did not eliminate crime.

He said there were 8,000 prisoners in Pakistan who were sentenced to death. Usually, it is the lower courts which give such a verdict but by the time it reaches upper courts things tend to change. This was the area they needed to work on, he said and added it was important to engage media, politicians and the youth on the issue. He said two kinds of countries opposed the abolition of the death penalty: powerful and those with large populations.

Dr Tauseef Ahmed Khan said the issue was linked to human rights. Going back in time when there were tribal societies, he said, the state which was based on oppression (jabr) usually imposed such laws so that terror could be spread, and killing people was one such means. If there was a rebellion against a monarch, he would kill the rebels.

With the advent of the industrial revolution, workers and labour movements began to take root and it was agreed upon that unless human rights were not given, things could not improve. He told the gathering that it was in 1948 that the human rights charter came into being.

Dr Khan said in Pakistan and India, the system generally supported the privileged class. He disagreed with Dr Michael that only powerful and densely populated countries supported the death penalty and said that countries with military rule and monarchies (such as Saudi Arabia) also opposed the abolition of capital punishment because they depended on ruthless use of power.

He said when Yousuf Raza Gilani was prime minister he tried to do away with the punishment but the law ministry suggested to him that he should not announce it because it was against Islam.

Dr Khan said there were international conventions because of which 80,000 Pakistani soldiers were not killed after the 1971 war. Such conventions should be implemented in letter and spirit. There was also the need for changing people’s mindset on the subject.

Dr Riaz Sheikh talked about the concept of social control. He said those in minority decided the fate of the majority. He said the philosophy of capital punishment, among other things, had the element of danger to property. Those who had property feared that the underprivileged were after their land. It was Karl Marx who pinpointed the problem and enlightened us that there were social reasons behind every dilemma.

He informed the audience that in Saudi Arabia, 70 per cent of such punishments were awarded to those who were not Saudi citizens, and out of those 90 per cent belonged to South Asia (mainly Pakistan and Bangladesh).

Dr Sheikh said there was a need to look into blasphemy laws and honour killings. In honour killing cases, the killer often surrendered himself on the spot suggesting he could justify the killing later on, he said.

A question and answer session followed during which Dr Michael told a questioner that in many countries crime was treated like a disease. He said nobody was suggesting that the killers should get off scot-free. They should face all other relevant punishments.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

NOTE: Other forgiveness stories...

Readers interested in forgiveness stories may want to read the comments under the following has just been several forgiveness stories have been submitted to this post on Rais Bhuiyan story...GO here

I am unfamiliar with the above and would be interested in more on these and on other forgiveness stories (with corroboration/references if at all possible.)

Friday, October 05, 2012

Execution Day Journal (revisited) Part Two

(Please see Part One in the post just below)

Mejdanek was a concentration/death camp in Poland near the city of Lublin. I visited it almost 20 years ago with my father - a Holocaust refugee himself. My father overwhelmed with emotions left my brother and me and returned to the car. We set out to look for the Gas chambers of Mejdanek. The camp unlike death camps ( exclusively reserved for killing) served also as a slave labor camp with barracks for the prisoners. Somewhere in the camp were the Gas chambers. It was a gorgeous autumn afternoon with a golden sun setting lighting the camp. The trees were blazing in red yellow and gold; the dark wooden barracks could be mistaken for some youth camp…at least from the outside. And here were my brother and I stumbling amidst heaps of golden leaves searching for the illusive Gas chambers. And than on the outskirts of the camp we saw this low concrete building that stood out. It simply did not blend with the rest. Sure enough it was Majdanek’s gas chamber.

Twenty years later and totally subconsciously I carried in me this image of a death house set apart and different looking from the rest of the buildings around it. Somewhere in the depth of my mind an association was made. It would haunt me ever since. We went along that low building passed few doors and a warden ushered us through the last door. And here the comparison with that gas chamber was over. In Majdanek we entered a bare room with a very low ceiling stained with bluish greenish color, that the a French tour guide explained to his students, was the reaction of the chemicals of the gas mixed with the plaster.

In Huntsville we entered a bizarre show room. It was small… very small. The ceiling here was very low too. But rather than advancing in a bare dilapidated structure, here we advanced in a darkened freshly painted room towards a glass window. Behind it was yet another chamber,oppressively small and painted in green. In the middle was Mark Stroman strapped to a gurney. Standing in that small room peeking at him through the glass I felt we were in a museum watching some rare exhibit.

When my daughter turned 13 years I took her and her friend to see London. It was the first and only time I was in Madame Tousseau’s museum. What impressed us all were a series of “Tableaux” in the “dungeons”. Here were life size wax statues of Jack the Ripper, Queen Elizabeth in her cell in the Tower of London, to name just few. We were passing from one glass window to the next watching a lifelike “Tableau” through a window. This is how I felt once we entered this very small room and walked towards the glass window, behind which there was a scene out of a Madam Touseau. Mark strapped on his back could only move his head slightly to recognize us. At the head of the gurney was what seemed to be a wax statue of a warden wearing a dark suit. He was standing a foot behind Mark‘s head staring at the space head of him. He was wearing dark sunglasses, his hands clasped behind his back. He had a plastic earpiece like a Secret Service agent.

On the other side of the gurney was the Chaplin who had instructed us in the Hospitality suite. He also stared at the space ahead murmuring some prayers. In one hand he held what I assumed was a small prayer book. He touched Mark’s ankle, with his right hand. He did it too according to “protocol” It was for “ human contact” , he had told us in the hospitality suite where he had ”prepared” us for what were were watching now. If not for his moving lips he too eerily resembled a wax statute from Madam Touseau ‘s wax museum. The only proof of life in this “Tableau” was of course Mark. He was very much alive, and painfully so. While we waved, cried and touched the glass he smiled and recognized us nodding his head. He was for me the only living person in this grotesque show.

Rick Halperin, A Dallas professor of Human Rights and an anti-Death Penalty activist, had warned me, when we met, to be prepared for the sight of tubes. Rick witnessed an execution in 1998 and he particularly remembered one tube carrying a black liquid that was injected into the condemned prisoner’s veins. The State of Texas must have listened to Rick Halperin ‘s description. In our execution chamber there were no tubes in sight, neither were bags of liquid. No machine or other instrument could be seen. Even the point where the needle pierced Mark’s skin was covered up with white bandages. The room was sparkling clean. Mark was covered to his chest by a spotless clean white sheet and some green blanket

It was as if we were in a hospital room. It all seemed to be so clinical.

Few minutes after we all piled into this tiny room taking it all in, the “show “ began.
And what a choreographed shows it was! Samuel Becket, one of the founding fathers of the Theater of the Absurd, could not have conceived of a better play. Performance and Stage directions were honed to perfection. Over 400 executions in Texas (more than all states combined) produced superb acting and precisely choreographed performance.

The “spectacle” began with a door opening at the other side of the tiny chamber. I was so tense focusing on Mark that I have not even noticed that there was a door painted in green, like the walls around it. A man dressed in dark business suit lowered his head and peeked into the little chamber:

“Warden proceeds” he said and than without turning his back to us, he simply retreated back into the darkness from which he had come and the door was closed.

No one moved or recognized the existence of this “intruder”. However that was apparently the signal for Mark to begin saying his final words. I published them in an earlier update. We were all glued to him and the glass. The air was heavy,you could slice it with a knife. To make things worse, in this otherwise implacable show, the microphone was faulty. We were straining to hear Mark’s voice.

I remember the sentences from the scriptures, his beautiful sentence about Hate, the pain it causes and how it needs to stop.

Than according to the “reporters “ who were present he said:

“Let’s do this damn thing. “

But did he say it? None of us remember him ever saying it. What I do remember that he turned his head lightly towards us (he was strapped on his back and this movement of the head must have been painful) and thanked us each by name. It was such a “Mark’s moment” literally seconds before Death thanking each one of us personally.

So did he say, “Let’s do this damn thing” or didn’t he? Some of us agonized over that because the “reporters’ allegation was that he uttered a “curse”.

I could not care less. Actually if indeed he said this sentence I am even more proud of him. What would I have called this surrealist ritual strapped there on the gurney only seconds before my death? Would I have chosen another word to describe it? Hell no!

If Mark indeed uttered a “curse” it paled in comparison with the obscenity of the spectacle we were now condemned to watch.

And than in yet one more typical Mark‘s moment, he said:

I love you, all of you. It’s all-good; it’s been a great honor. I feel it; I am going to sleep now. Goodnight, 1,2… there it goes.

Those were his last words that I will remember as long as I live. Mark calmly giving the cue to the Executioner, even counting till three like we do in field recording:” Coming in 3,…1, 2…

He closed his eyes and I never saw any change in his face afterwards. It looked from the outside as if he was peacefully going to sleep. For me it was a relief. I heard so many stories about the drugs used in execution. Only in late June a man was executed in Georgia after tossing his head dying with his eyes open. I was a worried sick about Mark. But he seemed to die peacefully and at that moment it was a huge relief.

We were standing there hypnotized as the “show” continued: an immobilized waxlike statute of the Warden staring ahead, the Chaplin standing on the other side of the Gurney staring into space too. And in the middle was Mark, now lying with his eyes closed for what seemed to be an eternity.

And than from “stage left” from yet another door that could not be seen through our “window” another man emerged as if he was waiting in the back. He was the doctor. He very earnestly stepped to the gurney and began to examine Mark with his stethoscope putting his fingers to his neck and checking his pulse.

And than he leaned slightly towards the microphone above Mark’s face and said:

“Death occurred at 8.53”

And as if on cue the Chaplin lifted the sheet and covered Mark’s face. He was now officially dead. I felt a slight touch on my shoulder - yet another the Chaplin who was with us in the Hospitality suite. I never noticed him. It was time to go he said quietly. The show was over.

Back in the parking lot of the Hospitality suite to where were driven in the Chaplin’s car we met the other “man of God” who for “human contact” touched Mark’s ankle. His new role now was to deliver Mark’s personal belongings. There were several bags of meshed plastic net. To me they looked like onion bags. We helped the Chaplain to dump all of Mark’s earthly belonging to our pick-up truck. Offender Mark A. Stroman #999409 was no more. Mark’s body was released minutes earlier and there in the parking lot the state finished the process by releasing Mark’s belonging: few sacks of legal work, typewriter, some unanswered letters, photographs and food staples he bought in the prison commissary.

Mark Stroman ceased to be the property of the State of Texas. His body and his belongings were now with us.

Execution Day Journal (revisited) - Part One for this blog

These are selected excerpts (Find the original in full at Execution Chronicles website)

Outsider on the inside
Reflections on our society by an Israeli born filmmaker

Execution Day – the End
August 27, 2011 By ILAN ZIV

Here is the last piece I promised to write about the Day of Execution...I swore when I marched into the execution room to bear witness to what I saw. I feel it is my responsibility to share my experience with as many people as possible. After all so few people ever watched an execution. Thinking or talking about the Death Penalty and witnessing an execution are two very different things. The devil ,as they say, is in the details. And it is the details of that day that I found so illuminating.

My last update ended with a single telephone call in the administrative building and the look of the guard who informed me “it’s a go”. I followed him to the “cafeteria” where we have been waiting for 3.30 hours. I looked at the wall it was around 8.37pm. All hopes were gone. Mark was going to be executed. The mood in the “cafeteria” changed instantly. Some began to cry, some hugged or held hands. I will never forget the walk from the cafeteria across the street to the prison. We all hugged or held hands… some cried. The walk is a short one as you descend some stairs and go literally across the street to enter the prison. However it is a walk that seemed to last for ever. Adding to the surrealism was the knowledge that for those outside, this walk was the signal that all hope is gone and the execution was going to take place. There were only few television cameras but down the road behind the police line I could hear shouts and shrieking. I felt as I would feel for the rest of the evening that I was participating in some absurd show …some bizarre ritual. My role …our role, was now to enter the “theater” where were the selected spectators. The rest watched us knowing full well the nature of what we were going to watch. We were not alone with our thoughts and feelings. We were being watched. This contradiction between knowing that in few minutes Mark Stroman was going to be killed and the sense of this bizarre theater never left me throughout the process. This ritualized killing was for me one of the most haunting aspects of the execution. It was a testimony to how humanly complex this event is. The State has to dress up the execution with legal and clinical trapping as if by that they hope to add legitimacy to it. We had a role to play in the “show”. We were going to watch the ritual as spectators. Nothing was done in the dark, nothing was “hidden”, as if shining light on the killing would dramatically alters its nature.

The sense of theater only increased as we walked slowly towards the “stage”. We were alone accompanied by few prison functionaries,; the Chaplin and Mark’s spiritual advisor (more about them later.) Only later I realized that among this very small crowd there were two reporters. They had a role to play in the show as well. They were to “report” on Mark’s last words and behavior. One of them the AP guy I have been told had an illustrious career of observing over 200 executions. I have no idea if he received any prize for his “brave journalistic endeavors” but I do remember that Sam, my camera person, and (the) British print reporter (who) interviewed Mark only a week ago, told me about how irate was Mark seeing this guy walking around the visitors hall. Mark refused to talk to him and claimed he mistreated and misrepresented inmates. But now it was not up to Mark anymore. He lost the last privilege of the living: to decide who will be witnessing his own death.

We proceeded through corridors. No one talked . I remember a particular corridor that seemed to be a visitor hall where families meet their loved ones separated by a wire mesh, not the cages with glass partition I got used to in Polunsky.

Another door and other curve and suddenly a blast of hot air. We were outside in an inner courtyard inside prison. We were surrounded by tall buildings and barbered wire fence.

To our left there was a very low building with few doors - as if it was an architectural after thought - an appendix in this “courtyard”. I understood instantly that this must be the Death chamber. It is as if that recognition hit me in my guts. But why? Why at that moment with so much tension building up, I sensed that this was the building was heading to? How come I instantly realized that that the building was the “Death house (a series of cells culminating in the Execution chamber)? It was a mystery for me, that believe it or not, pre-occupied me for at least 24 hours after the execution until it suddenly hit me: The Gas chambers of Mejdanek of course!

Find the original at or GO here or go to Execution Chronicles archives for July/August 2011

Monday, September 24, 2012

"Life After Death" NEW memoir discussed by Damien Echols and Johnny Depp

After reading a question to Mr. Echols about whether Americans are deliberately ignorant of the conditions faced by prison inmates, Mr. Depp said: “I’d like to shake the hand of whoever wrote that question, because you just spun me completely backwards. I’m not completely sure where I am now.”

After Jail and Release New Fame as an Author GO here

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

"How can anyone vote for someone with a kill list?"

A comment underneath one re-posting of a compelling article called Obama's Way reads: "How can anyone vote for someone with a kill list!"

I'm haunted by this line. We abolitionists (of the death penalty) have off and on discussed whether or not extrajudicial execution can be considered a death penalty. Well? If it is the same in ethical terms, we sure have a lot of planned executions/assasinations/drone strikes being planned often 'Obama's Way' -- and no let up in sight. This is not to say the 'other' candidate won't have one as well -- maybe worse? What a dilemma we are in.

Well, Michael Moore has strong, parental words for us to give Obama four more years to straighten things out with the implied belief that our President will give up his kill list and other ongoing problems like rendition and torture at the hand of our US leaders under his supervision. (Or do these leaders run the White House?)

At the best, Moore is giving us a scary warning: vote for the lesser of two evils -- without really saying so and from a perspective perhaps somewhat convincing.

Debra Sweet of World Can't Wait has some strong words for us as well: In her 12 Steps to Overcoming the Addiction to Voting for the Lesser of Two Evils she advises: "Understand that kill lists and more unjust war is the wrong kind of change to believe in." To see all 12 Steps in her piece GO here

So, fellow abolitionists and people of faith and ethics against the death penalty: Is there room in an election for principles or do our choices just boil down to a gamble, a numbers game or the most clever strategy?

Let's talk...

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Terry Williams: Pending Execution for October 3rd

Here is a related article. GO here

We need your help to stop an impending execution in Pennsylvania!

Terrance "Terry" Williams is scheduled to be executed on October 3rd, and we're joining with partners around the country to petition for clemency to be granted in his case.

When Terry was just six years old, he was subject to horrific sexual abuse by older males. The abuse continued throughout his adolescence. After years of suffering, when he was 17 and 18 years old, Mr. Williams killed two of his abusers. The jury that sentenced him to death never heard about the abuse he endured, or that the men he killed were in fact his abusers. Five of the jurors now say they support clemency and would not have sentenced Mr. Williams to death if they had known this information.

Will you sign this petition to grant clemency to Terry Williams? GO here

There has been an outpouring of support for Terry - from child advocates, former prosecutors and judges, faith leaders, mental health professionals, and the victim's widow. Please join us in urging the Governor, the Board of Pardons, and the District Attorney to grant clemency and convert Terry 's death sentence to life in prison without parole.

Sign the petition now to stop Terry's execution!

Thank you for your help and support.

In solidarity,


Clive Stafford Smith reports on Gitmo & Death Penalty

Clive Stafford Smith has been tweeting on his trip to Gitmo where he recognizes the strong possibility of the death penalty at this sobering place:
CLICK here Stafford Smith is one of the angels of mercy for prisoners, people in Gitmo death row and victims everywhere. Follow his work at -- sign up for his emails and sign up for his tweets.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Sad Day in Gambia (on Eid al-Fitr) ends 27 years of no execution!

Found on or Click here for August 29-30 2012

After 27 years without a single execution in The Gambia President Yahya Jammeh brought that time to an unhappy end with the execution of seven Gambian citizens and 2 Senegalese citizens in a firing range. The executions were carried out on Eid al-Fitr, a day of celebration, love and peace in the Muslim faith.

The death penalty was abolished in Gambia by the former President Dawda Jawara but was then reinstated by the current President, Yahya Jammeh. In a broadcast President Jammeh made on Sunday 26th August he said that he would execute the other 38 convicts waiting on death row before the middle of September. This caused outrage in the rest of Africa and round the world. Christof Heyns, the United Nations special reporter on extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary said, ‘I strongly condemn the executions that took place last week in the Gambia, and call for a halt to further executions… This stream of executions is a major step backwards for the country, and for the protection of the right to life in the world as a whole.’ It was not clear what the charges against the nine executed were but many were former officials and top military officers who had been detained for treason when President Jammeh took power in 1994 by a military coup.

The President of Nigeria Goodluck Jonathon has called for a stop to the executions and for other Africa countries to ‘respond’ to President Jammeh’s execution schedule as he fears they ‘would mean genocide of Africa.’ It is obvious that these executions have caused a stir but will they be a turning point for Africa as the President of Nigeria has predicted? Or will President Jammeh stop the planned executions and will Gambia retreat back to being one of the only peaceful and stable nations in Africa as she was before?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

One More who Forgave and One More Who Died Saving Others

I hope to post on these two amazing heroes here soon:

This note came in the Comment Section under the Pierce O'Farrill story--

There is another man who forgave like Pierce O'Farrill: Donnie ("never" Donald) Wm. Nichols. Nichols forgave the gunman and he is a deacon. The man who gave his life saving others in the temple was Satwant Singh Kaleka, a man from India.

Posted August 13, 2012

Monday, August 13, 2012

PRAY. Dialogue. Act.

This effective image is from a Sierra Leone YOUTH dialogue project linked below.

St. Edwards Band, Sierra Leone -- Photo found here

Dear GOD help us all! Please help Texas today.

YET ANOTHER random shooting of at least five people has taken place. This time at Texas A&M University:

College Station police say a gunman killed a Brazos County constable and a civilian and wounded two police officers and a civilian near Texas A&M University.

Police wounded the gunman, who died in custody.

Virginia Tech, Arizona, Colorado, Wisconsin, Texas A&M... the list just keeps getting longer, and the death toll keeps getting bigger, with 34 more Americans murdered with guns every single day. How many more shootings will have to take place before lawmakers take meaningful action to address gun violence in America?

Please, click here to sign the petition from Daily Kos and our partners at Mayors Against Illegal Guns demanding a plan to reduce gun violence from both President Obama and former Governor Mitt Romney.


...Chris Bowers
Campaign Director, Daily Kos

A few other resources here (plz add your own in the comments below!)

Center which includes a project for helping YOUTH dialogue about the danger of gun violence. (let's learn from this special effort in Sierra Leone!: The iEARN Collaboration Centre has a variety of dialogue and interactive projects including this one on guns.) here

Doctors Target Gun Violence -- GO here

Health Experts Call Gun Violence a Social Disease -- GO here

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Colorado Shooting Survivor Forgives Gunman

O'Farrill speaks with reporters, July 26, 2012. Aaron Ontiveroz/Denver Post

Colorado shooting victim on James Holmes: ‘I forgive him with all my heart’
By Dylan Stableford, Yahoo! News | The Lookout – Thu, Jul 26, 2012

It would be understandable for the victims of the Colorado theater shooting and their families to want retribution.

But Pierce O'Farrill, a 28-year-old who was shot three times in the Aurora massacre, says he has forgiven James Holmes, the suspected shooter in last week's Aurora, Colo., massacre.

"Of course, I forgive him with all my heart," O'Farrill told reporters shortly before his release from the Univ. of Colorado Hospital on Wednesday. "When I saw him in his hearing, I felt nothing but sorrow for him--he's just a lost soul right now."

O'Farrill--a staffer at the Denver Rescue Mission, a Christian charity organization that helps "people at their physical and spiritual points of need, with the goal of returning them to society as productive, self-sufficient citizens"--told the Denver Post he would eventually like to meet Holmes.

"I want to see him sometime," O'Farrill, one of 58 people wounded in the shooting, said. "The first thing I want to say to him is 'I forgive you,' and the next is, 'Can I pray for you?'"

O'Farrill's compassion is in stark contrast to the brother of Jessica Ghawi, one of 12 people killed in Friday's "Dark Knight Rises" rampage.

Jordan Ghawi did not attend Holmes' first court appearance on Monday because he feared he might try to avenge his sister's death.

"I was afraid that I may try to get my hands on that man," Jordan Ghawi said in an interview with CNN outside the Arapahoe County District Court shortly after the hearing...

READ more at this original article entitled:
"Colorado shooting victim on James Holmes: ‘I forgive him with all my heart’"

Here is a selection of some of the comments that were under this yahoo article (See the Huff Post article for over 559 Comments by now!)

Tara • 13 days ago
Ok, a guy shot three times forgives the shooter, while Yahoo reported yesterday that a guy who was just present in the theater and not injured is suing the theater and the movie studio. What's wrong with this picture?

FUBAR • New York, New York • 13 days ago
Whether you agree or disagree with O'Farrill you have
to admit one thing...He does 'practice what he preaches.'

Henry1 day 20 hrs ago
...I say "Praise the Lord" for saving the lives of all the other people in the Theatre. Why should we dwell on the horrors that occurred that night. We need to forgive all people, not just those who come asking for forgiveness. God has already forgiven all people for the sins we have commited. Thats what Jesus did.

Chris • 13 days ago
Here is an example of a person that talks the talk and walks the walk....wishes for a speedy recovery

t10 days ago
ClassicSporty : I have no problem forgiving people when they are truly sorry for what they've done. That is not the case here. The man brutally shot and killed 70 people and from the looks of it is not sorry 1 lick. He hasn't earned forgiveness and doesn't deserve it in my book.

YouKidMe • 13 days ago
I understand this....hate eats you up from inside and poisons your life. It becomes all you think about and keeps one from moving on and healing. I also understand the desire for revenge. I have been there. The longer I hung on to the hate, more more slowly I recovered. can take a long, long time to really forgive.

Macy Marun13 days ago
I don't forgive people because of a Bible telling me to. I forgive everyone who has wronged me because hate makes me feel so ugly inside and really just damages me. Once I let go of my hatred and started forgiving, I felt like the world's weight was finally off my shoulders. I no longer refer to myself as Atlas. I can understand why this man forgave Holmes, and I hope all the victims and families can do it to start healing faster, too.

Stenton23 • 13 days ago
Coming on the heels of that other victim, who hired a PR firm and a lawyer for his lawsuit, no less. For this man, I have such admiration! Would that I could find such grace in my heart. God bless him. Truly inspirational.

Sharon12 days ago
Mike, Of course we all care about the others killed and injured but this story was about one person forgiving another. Just because you forgive him for what he did to you doesn't mean you think he shouldn't be punished for his acts.

Anaheim, California • 13 days ago
Hate is easy in a situation like this... It takes strength to forgive.

Chief • 13 days ago
I'll give this young man credit.... he's a better man than I.

Fats • Los Angeles, California • 13 days ago
People who post that they are angry he has forgiven the shooter seem to not understand that he is not saying he would let him go free. You can forgive someone but they still have to pay for it .

Lola • 13 days ago
Forgiveness, in my opinion is necessary for some to move on in life. While he may forgive Holmes, he will never forget. Bless this man for being the man he is.

What Now • 13 days ago
I think Pierce O'Farrell is doing something very healthy by setting an intention to let go and let "God". He turned this over to a higher power. Hate is like an addiction that stirs your insides and eats you alive if you continue to feed into it. This doesn't mean that by forgiving Holmes I'd agree he should also go unpunished. I doubt that is what O'Farrell intends here either by saying what he did. What he's doing is not allowing Holmes to rent any more space in his head and poison his thoughts.
Alot of the servicmen who suffered PTSD after the Viet Nam war found it was a very healing experience for them to revisit Viet Nam when they were ready later in life and return to the same places and meet the same people they were in combat with.

Janet D • 13 days ago
Thinking and praying for you, Pierce O'Farrill. I hope everyone will learn from you. God bless you and your family.

JP • 13 days ago
Forgiveness is a very powerful soul healer. It will allow him to move on more quickly.

DL • 12 days ago
O'Farrell is doing what is in his heart, what works for him. That doesn't mean it's something other folks shot (or the families of those who were murdered) have to do as well. However, what I find the most scarey are those who demonize Holmes, who wish to torture him, for example. When you express those sentiments, without investigation (which hasn't happened yet) into the event and him as a person, you premeditatively call for the death (etc.) of another: in short, you perpetuate the violence. You continue to create a culture of violence. How does that help?

Mike Bloise • Washington, District of Columbia • 13 days ago
This victim is cool!......

O.G • Los Angeles, California • 13 days ago
Love this verse..."You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire."
Matthew 5:21-24

Sad • 9 days ago
Forgiveness is pretty difficult, I have to say. I think sometimes it is easier to forgive someone who hurts you than it is to forgive someone who hurts someone you love. I think for family members, that will not come easy, if at all.

Alexa • 13 days ago
The forgiveness Pierce speaks of is not about forgetting or condoning the actions of Holmes. It's about letting go of the anger, hatred, and vengeful thinking that can consume us and cause us to be like the person who caused those feelings in the first place. It can be very destructive. Pierce is experiencing the peace of God - which "transcends all understanding".
(Philippians 4:7)

Find another article "Colorado Shooting Survivor Forgives Alleged Gunman" also with many comments (559 last I looked!) GO here

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

UPDATE from Bill Pelke: Recent Events (Alaska, etc.)

photo credit to Dallas Observer -- story link below.

It has been super to be here with Rais, he is a great man.

Rais gave wonderful talk at the annual fish fry. He did a fantastic radio talk interview with show host Shannyn Moore, who is a friend of AADP and the Journey of Hope. Rais also did a live news interview with the local Fox TV station prior to the “Fry Fish Not People” event.

They picked him up at my house and took him to the salmon cook-off when he was finished. Rais also was a judge for the competition. A television crew came to the event and interviewed him along with Rich Curtner, chair of the NCADP and one of the main organizers of this event.

I have been moved to tears each time I hear him speak. It is so powerful.

Rais also spoke for Kathy’s toastmaster group. He showed a 5 minute film. Everyone made positive comments when it came time for criticism and discussion that always takes place at these events. My Kathy really likes him too.

I look forward to talking strategy for the next couple of days, including a possible trip to Homer, to me the most beautiful city in Alaska. The weather last night was a beautiful 74 degrees, about as warm as it ever gets here in Anchorage.

I have also become friends on facebook with Pierce O’Farrill who was shot and left for dead in Colorado. He has forgiven the killer, doesn’t want the dp for him. Strong Christian man, talking about forgiveness to glorify God.

In fact he is on CNN right now. (As Bill wrote this update)

( Perhaps readers will be able to access this event by going here )

Great story.



Just one article Bill sent on Rais Bhuiyan here

I promise to get posted more of Bill's (and Rais') articles real soon!

Blogger, Connie

Photo of Dr. Rick Halperin and Rais Bhuiyan in Europe with the SMU/Reprieve project. The photo on top is also from the same trip and project when Rais was interviewed in England.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Bill Pelke, Rais Bhuiyan and the Alaska Fish Fry

Bryan Stevenson on Empathy

The Toll of Representing Those on Death Row Posted: July 24, 2012 Bryan Stevenson, Executive Director of Equal Justice Initiative in Alabama, recently delivered the keynote address at the 30th anniversary celebration of the Open Door Community in Atlanta. Mr. Stevenson discussed how defending those on death row often takes a personal toll on those engaged in this work, even to the point of feeling "broken." But, he added, "I’ve learned some very basic things, being a broken person. I’ve learned that each person is more than the worst thing they’ve ever done. I believe that if somebody tells a lie, they’re not just a liar; if somebody takes something, they’re not just a thief; even if somebody kills someone, they’re not just a killer. And because of this, I believe that we have this need, this mission, this calling, to embrace them and to recognize this 'something else.'” To read the full speech Go to

Updates on Meds Used in Executions

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Reuters Report: Murders & Firearms in Britain and the US

from Juan Cole: Informed Comment  posted on Reader Supported News on 22 July 12 

umber of Murders, United States, 2010: 12,996
Number of Murders by Firearms, US, 2010: 8,775

Number of Murders, Britain, 2011*: 638
(Since Britain's population is 1/5 that of US, this is equivalent to 3,095 US murders)

Number of Murders by firearms, Britain, 2011*: 58
(equivalent to 290 US murders)

Number of Murders by crossbow in Britain, 2011*: 2
(equivalent to 10 US murders).
For more on murder by firearms in Britain, see the BBC.
The international comparisons show conclusively that fewer gun owners per capita produce not only fewer murders by firearm, but fewer murders per capita overall. In the case of Britain, firearms murders are 30 times fewer than in the US per capita.
Do hunters really need semi-automatic AR-15 assault weapons? Is that how they roll in deer season? The US public doesn’t think so.
* British crime statistics are September to September, so 2011 is actually 2010-2011.
The photo above is from Op Ed at Denver Post:

Denver Tragedy from a Muslim cab-driver Perspective

Denver Tragedy URL to videos  I am not a FB user but here are some leads for more discussion
on this horrific event -- including a reference to forgiveness from one of the surviving victims...comments are also interesting and diverse.

The Denver Shooting: The More Op Ed

This article cross-posted from WhoWhatWhy

One of the most striking things about shooting incidents in how common they are. Another striking thing is how often the media fails to note the previous point, or to explore what that means -- or what might be done about it.

Late last night, a gunman walked into a movie theater in a Denver suburb, killed 12 and injured 50. Two days earlier a gunman opened fire outside a bar in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, in an incident in which at least 17 were hurt. These were not really so exceptional. Every year, about 100,000 Americans are victims of gun violence, and every week, people calmly enter our schools, our workplaces, our leisure gathering spots and open fire on innocent bystanders.

Whenever we tweet or post about these, often the only people we hear from are those who say we need more guns not less. "If I had been there with my gun..." The problem, of course, is the public at large is being asked to arm everyone and trust that, while the rest of us cower, "the right people" will quickly dispatch "the wrong people" in the modern equivalent of the Shootout at the OK Corral. No mention of whether the teacher is supposed to be armed...when a nut walks into a preschool and starts firing away.

Meanwhile, the media doesn't have any answers at all. Each time such an incident occurs, they primarily evince a morbid interest in the grotesque details of the incident and the psycho of the day. In this case, early indications were that the suspect in custody, James Holmes, said to be a dropout from a medical school, had some kind of imagined association with the film being shown, the Batman movie "The Dark Knight Rises."

And what is our response to all this? We were told that the president was awakened at 5:25am by his counter-terrorism adviser. He then issued the following statement:
"As we do when confronted by moments of darkness and challenge, we must now come together as one American family. All of us must have the people of Aurora in our thoughts and prayers as they confront the loss of family, friends and neighbors, and we must stand together with them in the challenging hours and days to come."
Later, in a press conference, he said: "Such violence, such evil is senseless."
Romney, in a statement, said:
"Ann and I are deeply saddened by the news of the senseless violence that took the lives of 15 people in Colorado and injured dozens more. We are praying for the families and loved ones of the victims during this time of deep shock and immense grief.  We expect that the person responsible for this terrible crime will be quickly brought to justice."
That's about the sum total of leadership these days. Avoid the core issue, pray, and extend sympathies to the families of the victims. No mention of systemic and endemic factors, or of taking action to prevent this kind of tragedy in the future.

A Brutal Culture Begets Violence
In the case of the Tuscaloosa shooter, we had some useful particulars. But sadly, this kind of actionable information is just too "big picture" for us to contemplate:
"There were signs Wilkins' life was unraveling.

"He divorced from his wife of 16 years around 2005 and a credit union last year tried to garnish wages at his then-employer, Capstone Oilfield Services, to collect a more than $15,000 debt but couldn't because he had declared bankruptcy. And the co-owner of the FedEx store where Wilkins turned himself in said Wilkins talked about being high on drugs during the shootings."
From that, we can see that Wilkins was experiencing stresses and crises. And at least some of them are related to the economic difficulties most of us are facing. And those are caused, at least in some cases, by greed and relentless pressure for profits, irrespective of the harm to others. That is, stresses are not all our fault. The ruthless bottom-line priorities of our society and the lack of protections for consumers and workers are factors in people becoming alienated and enraged. (We wrote a bit about regulating financial excesses the other day -- you can read that here.)

Gun violence is also due, in part, to the power of gun manufacturers -- which constitute way too big an industry altogether. While it's surprisingly hard to find accurate totals on firearms production, which in itself is troubling, according to a gun manufacturers' association, even a decade ago American firms were pumping out more than 3 million combined rifles, shotguns, revolvers and pistols in a single year. And those numbers have been climbing.

That's a mind-boggling figure. Indeed, we live in a country where firepower, both that held by individuals and by the state, is, frankly, pretty deranged. No other country on earth so bristles with means of killing -- and no other country thinks it is quite so healthy an entertainment for us and our children to sit at a console for hours and try to "kill" other people--including civilians.No other country thinks it is moral behavior to use pilotless drones to kill -- in large part -- people whose only crime is that they're young men of military age.Next Page  1  |  2

Author, investigative journalist, editor-in-chief at

Saturday, July 21, 2012

BILL MOYERS on the National Rifle Association (NRA)

"the NRA is the enabler of death - paranoid, delusional, and as venomous as a scorpion. With the weak-kneed acquiescence of our politicians, the National Rifle Association has turned the Second Amendment of the Constitution into a cruel hoax, a cruel and deadly hoax."

The NRA's Dark Gun Culture

Reader Supported News

By Bill Moyers, Moyers & Company
21 July 12

ou might think Wayne LaPierre, Executive Vice President of and spokesman for the mighty American gun lobby, The National Rifle Association, has an almost cosmic sense of timing. In 2007, at the NRA’s annual convention in St. Louis, he warned the crowd that, "Today, there is not one firearm owner whose freedom is secure."

Two days later, a young man opened fire on the campus of Virginia Tech, killing 32 students, staff and teachers. Just last week LaPierre showed up at the United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty here in New York and spoke out against what he called "Anti-freedom policies that disregard American citizens' right to self-defense."

Now at least 12 are dead in Aurora, Colorado, gunned down by a mad man at a showing of the new Batman movie filled with make-believe violence. One of the guns the shooter used was an AK-47-type assault weapon that was banned in 1994. The National Rifle Association saw to it that the ban expired in 2004. The NRA is the best friend a killer's instinct ever had.

Obviously, LaPierre's timing isn’t cosmic, just coincidental; as Shakespeare famously wrote, "The fault is not in our stars, but in ourselves." In other words, people. People with guns. There are an estimated 300 million guns in the United States, one in four adult Americans owns at least one and most of them are men. The British newspaper The Guardian, reminds us that over the last 30 years, "The number of states with a law that automatically approves licenses to carry concealed weapons provided an applicant clears a criminal background check has risen from eight to 38."

Every year there are 30,000 gun deaths and 300,000 gun-related assaults in the U.S. Firearm violence may cost our country as much as $100 billion a year. Toys are regulated with greater care and safety concerns.

So why do we always act so surprised? Violence is alter ego, wired into our Stone Age brains, so intrinsic its toxic eruptions no longer shock, except momentarily when we hear of a mass shooting like this latest in Colorado. But this, too, will pass and the nation of the short attention span quickly finds the next thing to divert us from the hard realities of America in 2012.

We are after all a country which began with the forced subjugation into slavery of millions of Africans and the reliance on arms against Native Americans for its Westward expansion. In truth, more settlers traveling the Oregon Trail died from accidental, self-inflicted gunshots wounds than Indian attacks - we were not only bloodthirsty but also inept.

Nonetheless, we have become so gun loving, so blasé about home-grown violence that in my lifetime alone, far more Americans have been casualties of domestic gunfire than have died in all our wars combined. In Arizona last year, just days after the Gabby Giffords shooting, sales of the weapon used in the slaughter - a 9 millimeter Glock semi-automatic pistol - doubled.

We are fooling ourselves. That the law could allow even an inflamed lunatic to easily acquire murderous weapons and not expect murderous consequences. Fooling ourselves that the second amendment’s guarantee of a "well-regulated militia" be construed as a God-given right to purchase and own just about any weapon of destruction you like. That's a license for murder and mayhem and it's a great fraud that has entered our history.

There's a video of which I'd like to remind you. You can see it on YouTube. In it, Adam Gadahn, an American born member of al Qaeda, the first U.S. citizen charged with treason since 1952, urges terrorists to carry out attacks on the United States. Right before your eyes he says: "America is absolutely awash with easily obtainable firearms. You can go down to a gun show at the local convention center and come away with a fully automatic assault rifle, without a background check, and most likely, without having to show an identification card. So what are you waiting for?"

The killer in Colorado waited only for an opportunity, and there you have it - the arsenal of democracy transformed into the arsenal of death and the NRA - the NRA is the enabler of death - paranoid, delusional, and as venomous as a scorpion. With the weak-kneed acquiescence of our politicians, the National Rifle Association has turned the Second Amendment of the Constitution into a cruel hoax, a cruel and deadly hoax.

Find VIDEO and more on Reader Supported News  here
(Blogger's note from Journey Blog: I'm leaving some select comments from Readers Supported Media (RSN)
+13 # ronnewmexico 2012-07-21 08:56
Assault weaponry have no place in do extended capacity clips..but

the flip side of this is invariably on this thread will come response stating....all guns everywhere must be disallowed...which is unrealistic considering some rural environments and professions(cat tle or sheep ranching for instance)....

So the NRA uses support this....assault weaponry...any abridgement on a right to own a gun leads to outlawing all guns...which is a completely irresponsible position in some circumstances.

so they have support in rural communities....because in a sense the opposition to the NRA is so fervent in their ideology.

I don't like to blame the victim...but that is the situation in this national discussion.

The baby is thrown out with the the interest of urban safety the rural experience is discounted and rendered extreme is the position of gun control..when really it is not....

Even rural peoples singularly considered know...assault rifles with extended capacity clips...have not a place in america. Mix that with no guns at all and you for no restrictions on gun ownership.
+27 # Barbara K 2012-07-21 09:35
Too many people don't realize that the NRA is a political entity, and not needed to own guns. The NRA is there to raise money for the Republicans, and have been doing so for many years. People are gullible enough to send them hundreds of dollars of dues because they think they are making them safe. People don't need the NRA to be safe. I'll bet many of their "members" don't know where their money is going. NRA rakes in money all over the place to support the Republicans, that is why the Rs support every whim of the NRA.
+8 # WestWinds 2012-07-21 10:05
The Republican constituency take pride in their ignorance. They shovel millions to creeps like Pat Robertson, who entered the ministry with the lint in his pocket, but who now owns a diamond mine in the Congo. And what has he ever really done for them? Send them a prayer... wow, that's really worth millions. The Republican constituency are wrong-minded and wrong-headed but as Mike Papantonio says, "You'll never change them."
-3 # Glen 2012-07-21 10:14
I agree, Barbara. The NRA may be offensive but it is the individual that makes choices. The NRA does not make it for them. It is a national disgrace that citizens cannot seem to overcome societal and family breakdown. Education and gun training is utilized by only a few.

The flip side of it all is that the U.S. is producing, as I have said, psychotics, due to all manner of social ills and little parenting. Teachers have seen it coming for decades. How to overcome that?

Availability of guns would not be an issue if there weren't psychotics, angry unhappy individuals, and soon, very desperate people without jobs. Fear and anger are a deadly duo.
+4 # Billy Bob 2012-07-21 10:36
Why not give everyone their own tank? Why not an anti-aircraft gun?
+1 # DHa7763100 2012-07-21 10:46
good one
+4 # JSRaleigh 2012-07-21 10:21
Too many people don't realize that the NRA is a political entity, and not needed to own guns. The NRA is there to raise money for the Republicans, ...

I believe you have the relationship reversed. The Republicans are captive to the NRA, who are there for the gun manufacturers who actually fund them.
+16 # macrhino 2012-07-21 09:43
Assault weaponry have no place in do extended capacity clips..but

the flip side of this is invariably on this thread will come response stating....all guns everywhere must be disallowed...which is unrealistic considering some rural environments and professions(cat tle or sheep ranching for instance)....

Absolute nonsense. There is almost no one in the pro gun control community who is for a total ban on weapon ownership. It is almost unknown. I notice that no one in the comments are calling for total gun bans. This is a red herring and detracts from the real argument.

I grew up in the back woods. The rural argument is silly, again only the US has rural communities?

The problem is simply the easy access to guns. PERIOD.
-6 # WestWinds 2012-07-21 10:08
I don't know what you are talking about, "easy access of guns." I own three pistols and I had to go through gun courses, get finger printed in every state I have lived in, had to register them and pay fee after fee for them... You make it sound like you can pick guns off of trees. Nonsense!
+2 # Brooklyn Girl 2012-07-21 10:31
That's only because you chose to obey the law.

Many gun owners don't.
+3 # DHa7763100 2012-07-21 10:52
Well you can go to Arizona and buy any type of gun you want...walk out the door and sell it to somebody in the parking lot. That's were all this fast and furious crap come from. Arizona Prosecutors will not prosecute someone for selling guns to the cartel because it is LEGAL. An 18 yr old can buy 200 assult rifles, and because he owns them, he is FREE to sell to whomever he wants to without prosecution,
+2 # Billy Bob 2012-07-21 10:37
Why do you need three of them?
+1 # JTHinSD 2012-07-21 10:37
So, what, exactly, is "easy" access to guns? Do you have one? Have you gone through the steps to legally procure one?
-18 # WestWinds 2012-07-21 10:01
You don't take into account home invasions everywhere, especially for a certain class of people, the elderly. You have no idea what it is like to be old and at the mercy of every wiseacre sociopath that is running around with the blessings of the police. I favor the "Castle Law" and weapons are what makes the difference between having enough security in the house at night to sleep and NEVER being able to sleep knowing that your neighborhood home invader lives only a few streets down.
+5 # Brooklyn Girl 2012-07-21 10:32
Locks and window alarms work just fine.

Personally, I wouldn't trust an elderly person with a gun. I'm 62 and I can't see clearly without my glasses.
+2 # Billy Bob 2012-07-21 10:37
Statistically, you're more likely to kill yourself with your own weapon than you are likely to use it in self-defense.
...The NRA has done a fantastic job of scaring the Stupid People that their 2nd Amendment Rights are being taken away just because they can’t have magazines with 20, 30, 50 or 100 shells.
+3 # paulrevere 2012-07-21 08:57
Psychotropic drugs have been a factor in the majority of these mass murders...and the drug companies have actively surpressed the have the families because it reflects on them personally...Fort Hood, Columbine, Virginia, Arizona...just do a search for 'psychotropic drugs and mass murders'...for there is a ton of articles and studies making that point.

It ain't the guns, it those who use 'em!
+21 # SearchingfortruthSarah 2012-07-21 09:14
But what legitimate need is there for an assault weapon the fires so many bullets that it can kill 'en masse'? Besides war?
+5 # WestWinds 2012-07-21 10:14
Why does the US government need six thousand nuclear bombs when two will completely destroy the planet?
Ask these bloody corporations when is enough enough?
+2 # SearchingfortruthSarah 2012-07-21 09:16
According to your premise "it aint the guns but those who use 'em" If those who use psychotropic drugs have such easy access, does that make easy access responsible?
+1 # paulrevere 2012-07-21 09:57
Can't argue assault weapons personally...

If those who use psychotropic drugs get so loosened emotionally that they see insanity and violence as their deal, then maybe those who use them should be more closely monitored by those who prescribe the drugs...ey?

You propose to take away a privilege/right of tens of millions while the 'drug inhibited' walk the streets?

How about a law that states that if a doctor prescribes a psychotropic, then they MUST meet with the patient once a week and monitor their behavior?
+1 # WestWinds 2012-07-21 10:15
The easiest access is a stolen weapon. No fees, no classes, no registration, no limits.
+1 # Billy Bob 2012-07-21 10:38
And with so many weapons available, it's pretty easy to steal them.
+3 # WestWinds 2012-07-21 10:12
Finally! Someone with some common sense! The bad guys will ALWAYS get guns, and penalizing a whole country of law-abiding citizens for the disturbed acts of a few is just as INSANE! Stop going after the low hanging fruit. If you really want to stop the gun attacks, ask what is motivating it... and you'll probably find that it is the insane way the adults are running this country and the behavior coming out of the kids is just a symptom of the insane adult behavior kids have to grow up with. Stop the wars, take care of the planet, pay people livable salaries, put in good health care. When the parents stop bouncing off of walls, so will the kids!!!
+1 # Billy Bob 2012-07-21 10:41
Do you think England has fewer bad guys than we do? Bad guys are EVERYWHERE. What makes you think we have more of them in the U.S.? With so many bad guys walking every corner of our planet why are so many of the bad guys able to commit murder in the U.S.? I would argue that it's much easier to murder someone with a gun than it is without one. It seems pretty obvious.

Unless you think England is a magical land of fairy princesses and unicorns where bad guys never tread...
-1 # WestWinds 2012-07-21 10:22
Asking about more effective gun control is closing the door after the horses have left the barn. The questions to be asking are:
Why are kids being attracted to this? Are the video games and all of the murder they watch on TV programming their brains? Do we glorify war with marching bands, medals, parades and ribbon stickers on our cars? Do we buy our kids toy guns for play? Who is raising out kids, parents or the TV? Is this country in such a state of fear and anxiety because of the clowns in Washington that this toxic atmosphere is affecting our kids? Are the kids witnessing massive amounts of for-profit dysfunction everywhere they look? Isn't their behavior a sign of adult dysfunction? Our kids aren't growing up with peace and love, they are growing up with hostile dysfunction and you wonder why they are going on shooting rampages??? Wake up!
+1 # Billy Bob 2012-07-21 10:43
They have video games everywhere in the world. Japan LOVES video games and ESPECIALLY the violent ones. Look at Japan's murder rate. Look at how many guns they have.

+1 # Billy Bob 2012-07-21 10:45
That's right. The community - not the individual. Regardless of what Scalia says, the 2nd Amendment isn't a license to buy a nuclear warhead and keep it in your garage.
+2 # paulrevere 2012-07-21 10:01
Not until the psychotropic drug users are differentiated as a 'must monitor on a short window during use' basis.

Do that research on the connection between psychotropics and mass sheds an entirely different perspective on the issue.
0 # paulrevere 2012-07-21 10:05
I agree about the 'tyranny' needing potential for personal defense, but ANY ref to open carry and all that testosterone paranoid delusion is out of the question.

The odds of anyone being struck by lightening or hit by a golf ball are about the same as anyone being around a psychotropic drug addled mass murderer.

All this knee-jerk about being safe is just a psycho-trick to keep Americans in's just not all that relevant in the true scheme of how life unfolds.
0 # paulrevere 2012-07-21 10:45
F.E.A.R. ='s False Evidence Appearing Real

+1 # Billy Bob 2012-07-21 10:49
Actually Colorado has some of the most lax laws in the country regarding concealed weapons. Maybe the other people were aware of the statistical likelyhood that you're more likely to kill yourself with a gun accidentally than be murdered by a stranger.

Ask my cousin who was a competitive shooter and had won several trophies. Oh that's right. You CAN'T ask him. He accidentally blew his head off in his garage after he tripped. That may sound cold, but it's the honest truth. We were close and I don't think he's offended by me mentioning the truth of what happened to him.
+4 # macrhino 2012-07-21 09:48
The "Psychotropic drugs" comment from paulrevere is even more nonsense. This is called "all the world is the US" argument. There are places with much easier access to Psychotropic drugs that do not have nearly the number of shootings of this type (Holland, Germany, Denmark). This is not to say it is unknown but it is very rare.

The it ain't the guns "argument" is a good indication of why we have these problems.

The logic error expressed here is better stated, “the inanimate object is not a significant part of the equation.” This is the "Guns don't kill people, people kill people" argument.

This argument is over-simplistic. The "human factor" in this "equation" is a constant, not a variable. If we want to change the outcome of the "equation" we have to change the variables.

Here is a thought experiment. Imagine 2 separate groups of ten men each. These groups both have an equal desire (human factor) to clear a large forest that is situated next to their respective villages. But only one group has access to chainsaws or power saws. The other group only has knives. Which group (of equal motivation) will be more successful at clearing the forest? CHAINSAWS DON'T CLEAR FORESTS, PEOPLE CLEAR FORESTS.

Guns are power tools for killing. They are enablers. The argument is, "How do we severely reduce killings?" One very effective way is to reduce access to these power tools for killing.