One year after the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords with her husband, Mark Kelly, led the pledge of allegiance
Photo: Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times

The sun had fallen and a crowd had gathered on a chilly Sunday night on the mall at the University of Arizona at the start of the last event marking the first anniversary of the mass shooting here a year ago. The event started with a leading of the Pledge of Allegiance.

And the person leading it was Representative Gabrielle Giffords.

The crowd responded with cheers and gasps as Ms. Giffords, wearing a bright red scarf, walked slowly across the stage, helped at times by Ron Barber, her chief of staff who was also shot that day and who was leading the vigil on Sunday. And with no apparent difficulty, Ms. Giffords led the crowd through the pledge, holding her right arm with her left hand. She finished with a clear, broad smile to the audience and slowly walked off the stage.

It was a dramatic footnote to the end of two days of ceremony here that were remarkable for how understated they were. A year ago, after the shooting spree that left 6 dead and 13 wounded, including Ms. Giffords, residents of this city gathered in an expression of grief and shock that lasted for weeks. There were a blur of funerals, a crush of flowers, candles and well-wishers on the expanse of lawn at the hospital where victims were taken, and a visit by President Obama that drew thousands.

On this anniversary, there was the candlelight vigil, an interdenominational prayer service and a ringing of bells at 10:11 a.m., marking the moment of the attack, and the reading of the names of the victims. There was Ms. Giffords herself visiting places that have become landmarks of the attack: the Safeway supermarket at the parking lot where the shootings took place and the Internsive Care Unit at the University of Arizona Medical Center where those injured in the shootings were treated…

For Tucson, this is a turning point as it searches for a way to mark the tragedy — to give it meaning beyond the day itself — without the images from the Safeway parking lot becoming the first thing people think of at the mention of Tucson.

We refuse to let this tragic day define us,” Patricia Maisch, one of the women who wrested the gun from the shooter, said at a service memorializing the victims at a hall at the University of Arizona.

There will be no aid from the Governor of Arizona, her Republican counterparts in the state legislature or those Republicans elected to represent the people of Arizona in Congress. They will blithely trot out their “understanding” of the murders in terms hackneyed enough to be two centuries away from reality.

Republicans and teabaggers alike will give thanks to a Democrat Party so cowed by the political clout and lobbying dollars of the NRA and the gun industry’s predominant cartel, the Freedom Group, they wouldn’t say “boo” to a 12-year-old carrying an Uzi.

The survivors of the murders will carry on alone – except for the millions of Americans of good will and courage who care about freedom for those who defend Free Speech without needing concealed weapons.

Argentina’s President has cancer surgery – never had cancer!

President Fernandez’ supporters reacting to the good news
Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez never had cancer despite being diagnosed with the disease last month and having her thyroid gland removed on January 4…

The government announced just after Christmas that the recently re-elected leader had thyroid cancer. The operation to remove the gland went well, but when it was later analyzed it turned out to have never contained cancerous cells, said spokesman Alfredo Scoccimaro…

Fernandez was originally diagnosed with papillary carcinoma.

Buenos Aires-based thyroid cancer expert Eduardo Faure, who is not on the president’s medical team, said a small number of such cases turn out to be “false positives,” meaning that no cancer is present. “The cells may originally appear to be cancer but in 2 percent of cases, after the operation, when a more thorough examination can be performed, it turns out they are not,” the doctor said in an interview.

This result was always within the realm of possibility. It does not mean that the original diagnosis was mistaken.”

Several hundred Fernandez supporters had camped out near the hospital where she was treated, carrying banners that said “Strength Cristina.” A cheer went up from the crowd when Scoccimaro made the announcement…

Vice President Amado Boudou, the former economy minister and a loyal Fernandez ally, assumed the presidency this week during Fernandez’s scheduled 20-day leave of absence.

OK – I was ready to bust some chops in the medical profession over this one. The fact is – this result is always within the realm of possibility.

Being an old fart whose life has traveled from subsistence fishing in New England waters to life in high desert country mostly in New Mexico – I’ve trampled way too much sunlight into my skin cells. Enough – so I see my favorite Progressive dermatologist twice a year for a checkup and the odd touch of liquid nitrogen to tidy up the place.

One of those checkups led me to a bit of skin surgery for something that looked more advanced than pre-cancerous – and the drill was to remove it altogether – and check it afterwards more thoroughly. It came out non-cancerous and I was happy. Happy also to have had the walk-in surgery.

Republican agenda moves – as always – to the people they love to hate the most!

That didn’t take long.

As we’ve gotten around to casting votes to select a Republican presidential nominee, the antiblack rhetoric has taken center stage. You just have to love (and despise) this kind of predictability.

On Sunday, Rick “The Rooster” Santorum, campaigning in Iowa, said what sounded like “I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money. I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money.” At first, he offered a nondenial that suggested that the comment might have been out of context. Now he’s saying that he didn’t say “black people” at all but that he “started to say a word” and then “sort of mumbled it and changed my thought.”

“Uh huh.”

Newton Leroy Gingrich has been calling President Obama “the best food stamp president” for months, but after plummeting in the polls and finishing fourth in Iowa, he must have decided that this approach was too subtle. So, on Thursday in New Hampshire, he sharpened the shiv and dug it in deeper, saying, “I’m prepared, if the N.A.A.C.P. invites me, I’ll go to their convention and talk about why the African-American community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps.” On Friday, Gingrich defended himself, as usual, by insisting that exactly what he said wasn’t exactly what he said. He was advocating for African-Americans, not disparaging them.

“Uh huh.”

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7 students get home detention for beating 13-year-old girl unconscious on the way to her first day at school!

Sitting across from their parents or guardians, five girls and two boys faced a judge Saturday afternoon, a day after they were arrested by Marion County sheriff’s deputies for the severe beating of a 13-year-old girl on a school bus that left the girl hospitalized…

Authorities said the injured child was beaten multiple times and was treated at the hospital for a concussion, muscle spasms and a serious head bruise.

Inside the makeshift courtroom at the Marion County Jail, Assistant State Attorney John Zaleskie asked Judge Frances King to detain the youths due to what the prosecutor described as “extreme violence” and injuries suffered by the victim until their arraignment.

King decided to release the seven — who the prosecutor said had no prior arrests — to their parents/guardians and place them on home detention.

While on home detention, the youths have to abide by certain rules, such as no contact with each other or with the victim…

All eight juveniles, including the victim, attend Liberty Middle School.

According to sheriff’s deputies, the beating occurred on the school bus around 7:30 a.m. on the way to school. Authorities said there were approximately 74 children on the bus…

Unable to stop the fight, the driver drove to an elementary school and reported the incident to school officials, who called police…

All of the juveniles were arrested and charged with felony battery and disorderly conduct.

RTFA for the details of each stupid, egregious excuse offered for this criminal behavior.

Society says such behavior is OK. It’s normal behavior on TV programs approved by their parents. Only sex and swearing aren’t family values – and the sex is mostly OK, too. Violence, assault, might makes right are all perfectly acceptable to American morality.

Certainly, the parents bear no responsibility. Right? The judge obviously feels that to be the case.

Whistleblowers receive $532 million in 2011 for prosecution of crooks defrauding the federal government

Whistleblowers earned more than $532 million in 2011 through lawsuits alleging fraud against the U.S. government, a record for such payouts…Private parties suing on the behalf of the government collected $140 million more than they did the previous year, even as the Justice Department’s total civil fraud sanctions remained consistent…

The DOJ recovered some $3.02 billion last year through cases under the False Claims Act – the third-largest recovery ever, just shy of the $3.09 billion it won through cases in 2010.

Golly gee. Anyone think enforcement has changed a little bit since the Bush/Cheney cabal left town.

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“Stolen car” parks itself in garage – found 17 days later!

Constable Kynan Lang inspects the garage which the ‘stolen’ car rolled into at Stirling

A car reported as stolen from an Australian car park has been reunited with its owner, after apparently parking itself in a closed garage.

Adelaide police say they think the car rolled down an incline in the car park, across a street and into a garage forcing itself under the roller doors. The door closed behind it and the car remained undetected for 17 days until the home-owners returned from holiday.

Fearing a burglary, they called police, who deduced the curious turn of events.

“Although the roller door was closed, it had been damaged slightly and pushed out of its tracks,” a police spokesman is quoted in Australian media as saying.

Police believe that the car had not been left in the parking gear and so rolled though the car park and eventually “forced itself under the roller door, parking perfectly inside the garage where it remained safely under cover for 17 days”.