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BlueWaveNeverEnd's Journal
BlueWaveNeverEnd's Journal
December 24, 2023

Mississippians say they've been brutalized by Rankin County deputies, for decades.


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Stories of Alleged Brutality by a Mississippi Sheriff’s Department
Mississippians say they’ve been shocked with Tasers, beaten with batons, pistol-whipped and waterboarded by Rankin County deputies, for decades.

Last month, The New York Times and the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting at Mississippi Today investigated a series of allegations that, for nearly two decades, Rankin County sheriff’s deputies tortured people suspected of drug use to extract information and confessions.

Reporters examined hundreds of pages of court records and sheriff’s office reports and interviewed more than 50 people who say they witnessed or experienced these events. What emerged was a pattern of violence that was neither confined to a small group of deputies nor hidden from department leaders.

Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey declined to comment on specific allegations against his deputies, but in a brief phone interview in November, he told reporters “I have 240 employees, there’s no way I can be with them each and every day.” The department also announced that it had updated its internal policies and that deputies would receive training on federal civil rights laws.

These are portraits of some of the cases the investigation uncovered:

Christopher Hillhouse, 19
October 2009, Pearl, Miss.

Rankin County deputies arranged for a confidential informant to give marked money to Christopher Hillhouse to purchase drugs, according to department records. Mr. Hillhouse told reporters that he knew the informant was trying to set him up, so he spent the money at Dollar General and a gas station — stores deputies watched Mr. Hillhouse enter while tailing him, according to an incident report by Brett McAlpin, an investigator with the sheriff’s department. Later, deputies confronted Mr. Hillhouse at his family’s home. He and his mother said the deputies entered their house without permission or showing a warrant. Department officials told reporters they could not find a copy of a search warrant. Deputies demanded to know where the money was, the family said, before placing Mr. Hillhouse in handcuffs, punching him in the stomach and knocking his tooth out with a flashlight. Mr. Hillhouse said he was put in a van where a deputy continued to beat him for nearly half an hour. He was never prosecuted for a crime.
December 23, 2023

Dixie Chicks founding member Laura Lynch dies in head-on Texas car crash


Laura Lynch, a founding member of the Dixie Chicks band, has died in a Texas car crash, officials confirmed.

Lynch, 65, was killed instantly in a head-on collision Friday by an oncoming car attempting to pass another on an undivided highway near El Paso, Sgt. Eliot Torres of the Texas Department of Public Safety confirmed to USA TODAY. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

In a statement posted to Instagram, the band, now known as The Chicks, remembered Lynch.

"We are shocked and saddened to learn of the passing of Laura Lynch, a founding member of The Chicks. We hold a special place in our hearts for the time we spent playing music, laughing and traveling together," the band wrote. "Laura was a bright light…her infectious energy and humor gave a spark to the early days of our band. Laura had a gift for design, a love of all things Texas and was instrumental in the early success of the band. Her undeniable talents helped propel us beyond busking on street corners to stages all across Texas and the Midwest."
December 22, 2023

'True robotic-like extremism': Ron DeSantis bashed for disagreeing with SCOTUS' birthright citizenship ruling


Birthright citizenship, which is guaranteed by the Citizenship Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, came under scrutiny as DeSantis faced backlash on social media for his comments. Critics on platforms like X (formerly Twitter) accused him of extremism and disagreed with his interpretation of the Constitution.

"Ron Desanctimonious showing his true robotic-like extremism," one posted on X (formerly Twitter).

"So... he disagrees with the Constitution then? And he wants to be President? Get outta town!" another reacted.

"Hey Ron, You're definitely not a 'plain language,' strict constructionist when the Constitution disrupts your intentions to get rid of anyone related to or associated with an immigrant," a comment read.

"So. Wants to change the part of the Constitution he personally disagrees with. Good to know," someone else added.

December 22, 2023

Project 2025 pre screens applicants 4 next GOP administration, preparing to attack abortion from all directions

But it may not matter how the high court rules if Republicans win the presidency next November. That’s because GOP operatives have already crafted an expansive blueprint, 887 pages long, laying out in painstaking detail how they intend to govern, including plans to leverage virtually every arm, tool and agency of the federal government to attack abortion access. The document explicitly names their intention not just to rescind FDA approval for the abortion pill if they regain control of the White House in 2024, but to revive a 150-year-old law that criminalizes sending or receiving through the mail any “article, instrument, substance, drug, medicine or thing” that could be used to facilitate an abortion. That law, the Comstock Act, is viewed as a de facto federal abortion ban by reproductive rights advocates and anti-abortion activists alike.

Those plans — and many more, including proposals to attack contraception access, use the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to increase “abortion surveillance” and data collection, rescind a Department of Defense policy to “prohibit abortion travel funding,” punish states that require health insurance plans to cover abortion, and retool a law that is currently protecting pregnant women with life-threatening conditions — are outlined in Project 2025’s “Mandate for Leadership.”

Project 2025 is an initiative of the Heritage Foundation, a rightwing think tank that has helped staff and set the agenda for every Republican administration since Ronald Reagan. It describes Project 2025 as “the conservative movement’s unified effort to be ready for the next conservative administration to govern at 12:00 noon, January 20, 2025.”

For the last 40 years, Heritage has released a similarly detailed list of policy recommendations before every presidential contest. The organization has a strong track record of exerting influence: Reagan enacted roughly half of the recommendations his first year in office. But Donald Trump bearhugged Heritage’s agenda: In 2018, just one year into his administration, Heritage boasted that Trump had already implemented two-thirds of their policy recommendations, the most of any president since the organization’s founding.


Project 2025, meanwhile, is already pre-screening applicants for jobs in the next Republican administration, filtering out candidates based on their answers to a list of questions, including whether they agree or disagree with the statement: “Life has a right to legal protection from conception to natural death.”


December 22, 2023

Missouri school board that previously rescinded anti-racism resolution drops Black history classes

O'FALLON, Mo. (AP) — A conservative-led Missouri school board has voted to drop elective courses on Black history and literature, five months after the same board rescinded an anti-discrimination policy adopted in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd.

The Francis Howell School Board voted 5-2 Thursday night to stop offering Black History and Black Literature, courses that had been offered at the district's three high schools since 2021. A little over 100 students took the courses this semester in the predominantly white suburban area of St. Louis.


the resolution and course offerings were targeted by five new members who have taken control of the board since being elected last year and in April, all with the backing of the conservative political action committee Francis Howell Families. All seven board members are white.

The PAC's website expresses strong opposition to the courses, saying they involve principals of critical race theory, though many experts say the scholarly theory centered on the idea that racism is systemic in the nation’s institutions is not taught in K-12 schools.

“You’ve certainly taught me to not underestimate how low you will go to show your disdain toward the Black and brown communities’ experiences and existence,” Harry Harris, a Black father, told the board.
December 21, 2023

NYT update on St Louis police crashing into bar then beating and arresting owner. review of bystander video


Bar Owner Is Arrested After St. Louis Police Officer Crashes Into His Business
The officer who crashed into the bar said at the scene that he was trying to swerve around a dog on the road, one of the bar owners said.

They looked out their windows and saw that a St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department vehicle had crashed through the front of their business, Bar, shattering glass and causing extensive damage.

The couple, Chad Morris and James Pence, approached the group of officers who had gathered outside the building, in the Carondelet neighborhood of southeastern St. Louis, and asked what happened. But the police offered no answers, and according to a bystander’s video of the episode viewed by The New York Times, officers later handcuffed Mr. Pence and arrested Mr. Morris, claiming that they were “creating a disturbance.”

An officer identified in police records as John Pierce accused Mr. Morris of striking him “in the chest with an open hand,” causing him to lose his balance, according to police records. And a complaint states that Mr. Morris tried to strike Mr. Pierce “with a gate while fleeing from officers.”


A roughly 25-minute video clip of the couple’s encounter with the police that night does not show Mr. Morris shoving or striking an officer. Mr. Pierce, who did not respond to calls seeking comment, wrote in his report that Mr. Morris tried to flee from the police in an alleyway, an accusation that Mr. Khazaeli said was false.

The St. Louis police did not respond to emails or calls seeking comment.


The bystander video shared by Mr. Khazaeli shows an officer asking Mr. Pence whether he has identification on him. Mr. Pence, sounding incredulous, says that the officers should not ask him to provide that.

After an officer handcuffs Mr. Pence, the bystander recording the interaction asks the officers what crime Mr. Pence is committing.

“He’s creating a disturbance, obviously,” the officer says.

The bystander then tells the officer not to get any closer. The officer replies, “How about you don’t tell me what to do,” and then calls the bystander a “clown.”

When Mr. Morris approaches the scene, he asks why his husband is in handcuffs, the video shows.

Mr. Morris eventually walks down an alleyway to cool off, his lawyer said, and several officers follow him.

The bystander’s video does not show what happened in the alleyway.

After several minutes, Mr. Pence is heard saying in the video that the officers are beating his husband in the alleyway.

The video then shows Mr. Morris emerge from the alleyway handcuffed, with his shirt tattered and with two officers behind him.

Mr. Morris says in the video that an officer punched the “left side of my eye.” A photo of him taken on Tuesday shows his left eye bruised and swollen.

Before the video ends, Mr. Morris is shown being put into the back of a police van in handcuffs.

December 20, 2023

another affluenza teen: drunk driving Mercedes, offers to Venmo witnesses to let him go


A Texas teenager accused of killing a homeless woman in a drunk-driving incident appeared shell-shocked as he appeared in court to face manslaughter charges.

Hunter Cameron Villasana, 17, is accused of trying to flee the scene after he hit and killed the homeless woman in Houston on Friday.

Fast food workers who witnessed the crash told police the teen offered to send them money on Venmo if they let him go.

Police say the teen had been speeding on his black Mercedes when he hit a curb, ran over the woman, who had been sleeping on the median, and hit a wall.
December 20, 2023

Floridians Protecting Freedom confident they have enough signatures to put abortion on the ballot

Floridians Protecting Freedom reported Tuesday it will submit 1.4 million signatures to election supervisors by the end of the year, well above the nearly 900,000 needed to make the ballot. That topped the group’s initial goal of 1.25 million signatures.

“We’re confident we’re going to submit enough petitions to get on the ballot,” said Campaign Director Lauren Brenzel.

If it makes the ballot, the amendment must win at least 60% of the vote to secure passage.

The state has until Feb. 1 to verify the signatures to ensure they come from eligible voters and meet other requirements. As of Tuesday, the state reported that 753,762 of the required 891,523 signatures had been verified. Nothing is official until the state certifies that requirements have been met.


December 20, 2023

TSA at JFK Airport Criticized After Agent Tried To Take a Passenger's Mobility Aids

Imagine having your legs taken from you, forcing you to rely on others to move about or even do something as simple as go to the bathroom. That's essentially the dilemma Xian Horn was left with after a JFK Airport TSA officer told her she couldn't bring her mobility devices on board, saying that they were ski equipment. However, as Horn told @pix11ny, her mobility aids hadn't been functional ski poles in a long time. She retrofitted them with rubber bottoms so she could use them to walk about more comfortably than she could with traditional crutches.

The TSA agent became combative when Horn explained her need for the devices, allegedly yelling "No! You made them this way! You did this!" When Horn asked to see the supervisor, she claims the agent yelled back "I am the supervisor!"


Fortunately, Horn's travel plans weren't entirely ruined. As stated in the full PIX11 News report, after a half-hour another agent let Horn bring her mobility aids on her flight to California. Still, Horn was very disturbed by her experience.

"I wanna make sure this never happens to anyone else," said Horn. "Nobody deserves to feel the way I felt in that moment."


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