Bureaucrats in DC deny Arlington Cemetery to women pilots from World War 2

Click to enlargeHarmon family photo

First Lt. Elaine Danforth Harmon, a Women’s Airforce Service Pilot, or WASP, was one of many women who served their country when it needed them the most. More than 70 years after Harmon flew military aircraft, her family wants to place her ashes at Arlington National Cemetery.

Harmon, a Congressional Gold Medal recipient, died in April 2015 at the age of 95. Her daughter, Terry Harmon, sought to fulfill her mother’s wish to be inurned at Arlington’s Columbarium. However, she received a call from the cemetery telling her that former WASPs were ineligible for inurnment, a fact she argues contradicts an earlier decision.

The result is a new chapter in a long-running fight — wrapped inside a bureaucratic rigmarole — over resting privileges for America’s World War II-era women pilots.

The WASPs emerged during a period of rapid change and progress for the U.S. military. As the shadows of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan loomed, two female aviators, Nancy Harkness Love and Jacqueline Cochrane, proposed two separate plans to train female pilots in the event of American entry into the war…

Love’s first group included 28 female pilots and became the Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron. Cochrane’s squadron soon followed, comprising 30 women. This group would later become the WASPs. They helped alleviate manpower shortages by taking on jobs in the home front, allowing the men to fight overseas.

In her last report to Gen. Henry “Hap” Arnold, commander of the U.S. Army Air Forces, Cochrane noted 1,074 pilots made it into the WASPs’ tough training program, out of the 25,000 who applied.

Among these women was Elaine Harmon…

❝“This is our national cemetery. This is our most hallowed ground and it’s just not credible that they would turn away these women, considering how long they fought for their veterans’ rights,” Terry Harmon said. “They were an integral part of supporting the army during World War II. The Army was the branch of the service they served in and it’s the Army that’s turning them away from Arlington Cemetery.”

I’m never surprised when any branch of public service dominated by a good ol’ boys network discriminates against women. They are, after all, the same sort of cretins who supported racist rules for decades, gender identity-discrimination even longer. They’re reaching out like any obedient conservative bigot to hang onto each remaining strand of bigotry like it’s holy writ.

RTFA for the history of women pilots in the war. And more.

Is this a record the United States should be proud of?

Researchers found that 149 people were cleared in 2015 for crimes they didn’t commit — more than any other year in history, according to a report published Wednesday by the National Registry of Exonerations, a project of the University of Michigan Law School. By comparison, 139 people were exonerated in 2014. The number has risen most years since 2005, when 61 people were cleared of crimes they didn’t commit…

The men and women who were cleared last year had, on average, served 14.5 years in prison. Some had been on death row. Others were younger than 18 when they were convicted or had intellectual disabilities. All had been swept into a justice system that’s supposed to be based on the presumption of innocence, but failed.

The high number of exonerations shows widespread problems with the system and likely “points to a much larger number of false convictions” that haven’t been reversed, the report said.

Here are some patterns the organization found in 2015 exonerations:

Official Misconduct

About 40 percent of the 2015 exonerations involved official misconduct, a record. About 75 percent of the homicide exonerations involved misconduct…

False Confessions

Almost 20 percent of exonerations in 2015 were for convictions based on false confessions — a record. Those cases overwhelmingly were homicides involving defendants who were under 18, intellectually disabled, or both…

No Crime Was Actually Committed

In about half of the exonerations in 2015, no crime was actually ever committed by the people put behind bars — a record, according to the report. Most of these cases involved drugs. Some included homicide or arson…

Flawed Forensic Evidence

Many of last year’s exonerations involved flawed or invalid forensic evidence. According to the Innocence Project, improper forensic science is a leading cause of wrongful conviction…

Faulty Eyewitness Identification

False identifications of innocent people happened in several cases the exoneration registry report outlined.

The Innocence Project says eyewitness misidentification of a suspect plays a role in more than 70 percent of convictions that are later overturned through DNA evidence…

Here’s the worst of it

There’s no clear data on how many innocent people have been wrongfully convicted. The Innocence Project, citing multiple studies, estimates from 2 percent to 5 percent of prisoners are actually innocent. The U.S., which leads the world in incarceration of its citizens, has approximately 2 million people behind bars. That means a wrongful conviction rate of 1 percent would translate to 20,000 people punished for crimes they didn’t commit. On death row, 1 in 25 are likely innocent, according to a recent study.

Innocent until proven guilty. Really?

A young Muslim woman introduces President Obama visiting her mosque

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Click to get to the video

In her introduction to Obama’s speech, a young Muslim woman, Sabah Muktar, explained why the visit is important to her and other Muslim Americans:

In these uncertain times, some of us might find ourselves doubting where we fit in this society. Personally, this visit by our president is an affirmation to all Muslims; we are just as American as any other. It’s a gesture that invites inclusiveness of all faiths and color. More importantly, it’s an assurance for the Muslim-American kids constantly bombarded by anti-Islamic rhetoric that they belong…

I strongly believe to a lot of Muslims out there, the appearance of our president in our local mosque today does exactly just that. And personally, reassures me that I, a proud black, Muslim African American, am just as American and have the obligation to fulfill my loyalty to my country as any other.

Keep on rocking in the Free World.

Iraq Vet transforms wheelchair into snowplow

In wintry Omaha, Nebraska, a local veteran is using his modded wheelchair to help neighbors with snow plowing.

Justin Anderson is a disabled Iraq war vet. He has brilliantly modified his off-road wheelchair with a snow blade, and uses it to plow through the sidewalks near his home in Omaha, Nebraska.

He has brain cancer, and is also an amputee.

“I don’t want kids or parents having to go through the snow and possibly trip or hurt themselves,” he said. “I had a half-dozen people stop to take a picture because they hadn’t seen a chair like this before.”

“The chair has on-the-fly tilt so I can adjust the height of the blade as I push snow,” he tells WOWT 6 News.

He seems like an incredibly cool guy, and this is a great example of ingenuity finding a way.

I’ll second that emotion.

Thanks, Ursarodinia