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Weekly Digest

The following front-page stories received the most comments during the preceding week.

Michael Brown, the unarmed black teen who was killed by a Ferguson, Missouri, police officer, sparking protests around the nation, was shot at least six times, including twice in the head, a preliminary private autopsy performed on Sunday found. One of the bullets entered the top of Brown's skull, suggesting his head was bent forward when it struck him and caused a fatal injury, according to Dr. Michael M. Baden, the former chief medical examiner for the City of New York, who flew to Missouri on Sunday at the family's request to conduct the separate autopsy. read more


Michael W. Walters: The disturbing nature of the frequency of recent news reports in which unarmed black men have been killed by law enforcement officers is only exceeded by this fact: the act itself is deeply embedded into the racial fabric of our nation. Fifty years removed from the Freedom Summer murders of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner -- a conspiracy allegedly enacted by Neshoba County sheriff Lawrence A. Rainey -- we still face the difficult reality that for generations unarmed black men have met their demise at the hands of those sworn to serve and to protect all citizens. There is cause for great concern as I believe that a critical mass of law enforcement officers find black lives expendable. Towards this, I see this likely cause: there is a racially-motivated culture of fear that over-assigns threat to blacks, especially, but not exclusively, to black males, even when no justifiable threat is present. read more


A police report released Friday by Ferguson police identifies Michael Brown as a suspect in a robbery at a convenience store a short time before he was fatally shot by a police officer. Ferguson authorities have identified Darren Wilson as the police officer who shot and killed the unarmed teenager last Saturday. Ferguson Chief Tom Jackson released the officer's name Friday morning. Brown, 18, was shot multiple times Saturday afternoon. read more


A Republican state senator in Colorado justified the practice of hydraulic fracturing -- commonly known as "fracking" -- by saying that the presence of burnable amounts of methane gas in drinking water is a perfectly natural phenomenon. "They talk about methane in the water and this, that, and the other," state Sen. Randy Baumgardner said, "but if you go back in history and look at how the Indians traveled, they traveled to the 'burning waters.' And that was methane in the waters and that was for warmth in the wintertime."


While standing on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, Monday night between a crowd of demonstrators and police, CNN's Jake Tapper gave a live report expressing utter shock at the heavily armed and militarized response of the officers to a peaceful protest. "Now I want you to look at what is going on in Ferguson, Missouri, in downtown America, OK?" Tapper said. "These are armed police, with ... semi-automatic rifles, with batons, with shields, many of them dressed for combat. Now why they're doing this? I don't know. Because there is no threat going on here. None that merits this. There is none, OK? Absolutely there have been looters, absolutely over the last nine days there's been violence, but there is nothing going on on this street right now that merits this scene out of Bagram. Nothing. So if people wonder why the people of Ferguson, Missouri, are so upset, this is part of the reason. What is this? This doesn't make any sense." read more


Amid ongoing demonstrations, police in Ferguson, Missouri, announced Tuesday that they would not release the name of the officer who shot and killed an unarmed black man in the racially divided suburb of St. Louis, citing concerns for the policeman's safety. The unorthodox decision drew immediate criticism from Brown's family. "That doesn't give the community confidence," said Benjamin Crump, the attorney for Brown's family, while flanked by several African-American leaders. "That doesn't make it transparent." read more


Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic: [T]ake a look at the powerful photograph that Whitney Curtis took for the New York Times in the Missouri towns where residents are protesting the killing of an 18-year-old shot to death by police as he walked to a convenience store. Of course, not every police officer in Ferguson is dressed that way. But those three officers are dressed and outfitted such that they could as easily be storming into an ISIS safe house in Iraq. Actually, they are on the streets of an American city, clad in combat gear, squaring off against a nonviolent protestor in a t-shirt and jeans with both of his hands raised over his head. read more


Gov. Rick Perry of Texas (R) was indicted on two felony counts on Friday by a state grand jury examining his handling of a local district attorney's drunken driving arrest and the state financing for a public corruption unit under the lawyer's control. The indictment was returned late Friday in Austin. The investigation centered on Perry's veto power as governor. His critics asserted that he used that power as leverage to try to get an elected official and influential Democrat -- Rosemary Lehmberg, the district attorney in Travis County -- to step down after her arrest for drunken driving last year. Lehmberg is Austin's top prosecutor and oversees a powerful public corruption unit that investigates state, local and federal officials; its work led to the 2005 indictment of a former Republican congressman, Tom DeLay on charges of violating campaign finance laws.


Police in Ferguson, Missouri, once charged a black man with destruction of property for bleeding on their uniforms while four of them allegedly beat him. "On and/or about the 20th day of Sept. 20, 2009 at or near 222 S. Florissant within the corporate limits of Ferguson, Missouri, the above named defendant did then and there unlawfully commit the offense of 'property damage' to wit did transfer blood to the uniform," reads the charge sheet. "[N]othing new can faze me about Ferguson," said James Schottel, an attorney who has filed a civil suit on behalf of the man, a 52-year-old welder named Henry Davis who had been arrested in a case of mistaken identity. read more


Radley Balko, Washington Post: Since Colorado voters legalized pot in 2012, prohibition supporters have warned that recreational marijuana will lead to a scourge of "drugged divers" on the state's roads. They often point out that when the state legalized medical marijuana in 2001, there was a surge in drivers found to have smoked pot. They also point to studies showing that in other states that have legalized pot for medical purposes, we've seen an increase in the number of drivers testing positive for the drug who were involved in fatal car accidents. ... Roadway fatalities this year are down from last year, and down from the 13-year average. While some studies have shown that the number of drivers involved in fatal collisions who test positive for marijuana has steadily increased as pot has become more available, other studies have shown that overall traffic fatalities in those states have dropped. read more


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