Penn Expert “Star Witness” in Colorado Theater Shooting Trial

In this image taken from video, Dr. Raquel Gur, right, gives testimony during James Holmes' trial, in Centennial, Colo., Monday, July 6, 2015. Gur, a nationally known schizophrenia expert took the stand in James Holmes' defense Monday. (Colorado Judicial Department via AP, Pool)

In this image taken from video, Dr. Raquel Gur, right, gives testimony during James Holmes’ trial, in Centennial, Colorado., Monday, July 6th. Gur, a nationally known schizophrenia expert took the stand in James Holmes’ defense Monday. (Colorado Judicial Department via AP, Pool) | Inset, James Holmes at his booking.

The director of Penn’s Schizophrenia Research Center has emerged as a “star witness” in the trial of James Holmes, the lone suspect in the 2012 Colorado theater shooting that killed 12 people.

Raquel Gur, professor of psychiatry, neurology and radiology at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicinek, testified Tuesday that Holmes’ intellectual functioning matched that of the suspect in another case she followed closely — that of Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber. She spent 28 hours with Holmes during the course of six interviews.

“Do you have an opinion, as to whether but for this psychotic illness, there would have been a shooting at all?” a defense attorney asked.

“I agree. There would not have been a shooting at all,” she responded. Read more »

A Miracle in Charleston

When the arguments about guns and race subside after last week’s Charleston massacre — and, inevitably, they will — there is one moment from the whole ugly affair that I expect to remember for a long, long time.

That moment came after the alleged shooter, Dylann Roof, had been captured and brought before a judge to hear the charges and have bail set. In a moment unlike any I’ve experienced in court, the judge then allowed family members of the victims to speak to Roof.

And what happened was kind of extraordinary. Read more »

In Charleston Church Shooting, America’s Founding Racism Rears its Ugly Head — Again


The media are notorious for name-calling.

Let me be even clearer. The racist white media and their racist white viewers, listeners and readers are notorious for their racist name-calling and racist approval of such.

Wednesday night’s attack by a white man against black churchgoers was textbook terrorism, but we’re currently engaged in a furious debate over whether to call it such. Meanwhile, the 21-year-old sadistic terrorist Dylann Storm Roof has been described in an ABC news broadcast as “just a quiet kid…,” in Reuters as “quiet and soft-spoken,” in the Washington Post as a “quiet, shy boy… (who) didn’t get into trouble… (and) a son, nephew, and brother… (who merely) slipped toward his alleged horrific… visit to the church, and in The Wall Street Journal as a “bright boy from a middle-class… family.”

Bullshit. Pure racist bullshit.

After all, this is the very same person who has reportedly confessed to methodically shooting to death nine defenseless bible-studying black women and men at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Therefore, he’s no nice kid who merely went astray through no fault of his own. To say otherwise is racist hypocrisy.
Read more »

Charleston Shooting’s Unique Sorrow for Society Hill Congregation

Mother Bethel AME Church in Philadelphia (Photo by Smallbones via Wikimedia Commons)

Mother Bethel AME Church in Philadelphia (Photo by Smallbones via Wikimedia Commons)

It’s a difficult day for Reverend Mark Kelly Tyler. Twenty-one-year-old Dylann Storm Roof, wanted for Wednesday’s murder of nine people inside Charleston’s historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, has just been captured, and Tyler, like most Americans, is grieving over the tragic shooting.

But for Tyler and his congregation at the Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Society Hill, it runs deeper.
Read more »

The Best Thing That Happened This Week: Loretta Lynch Took on FIFA

360b /

Sepp Blatter at a reception for members of the FIFA in the Chanclery in Berlin in 2007. 360b /

He sounds like the abbreviation for a painful urological condition. Most Americans think she’s a country singer. That’s only part of why it was so improbable that new U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch took on president Sepp Blatter’s FIFA this week, indicting nine current and former high-ranking officials of international soccer’s governing body for dirty dealing and bribery. Blatter, who’s been with FIFA since 1975, is known worldwide as the most powerful man in sports; he wasn’t named in Wednesday’s indictments, and he was actually reelected to a fifth term on Friday, giving him the opportunity to say in a speech, “I am the president of everybody.”

Except Loretta. Read more »

How Rick Santorum Could Disrupt the 2016 GOP Race

Rick Santorum has shifted his focus.

Santorum is announcing his candidacy for the presidency today outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The former Pennsylvania senator was considered a rising Republican star before getting trounced in the 2006 election, but he made a surprise showing in the 2012 presidential primaries. Emphasizing a message of social conservatism, he ended up finishing second to Mitt Romney. He won the primaries of 11 states.

Things are different this time. There are so many candidates in the GOP field they aren’t sure how to run the debates. Santorum, though, has a new emphasis. To differentiate himself from the other social conservatives in the race, he is rebranding himself as something of an economic populist.

He even has a jangly pop-country theme song. Read more »

The Best Thing That Happened This Week: Marie Antoinette Lives!


High school students, union activists and fast food workers marched in Manhattan’s Upper West Side on April 15th to demand a $15 per hour federal minimum wage. Photo | a katz /

A new study out this week from the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education revealed just how much the working poor rely on state and federal assistance programs to make ends meet. It showed that 52 percent of American fast food workers, 48 percent of home health workers and 46 percent of child-care workers — the backbone of our “service economy” — receive assistance from Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, Temporary Aid to Needy Families, the Earned Income Tax Credit and/or food stamps. Because these workers get few or no benefits and are paid so poorly — the federally mandated minimum wage stands at $7.25 an hour — U.S. taxpayers ante up $152.8 billion annually to aid them and their families. As Patricia Cohen explained in the New York Times, taxpayers “are providing not only support to the poor but also, in effect, a huge subsidy for employers of low-wage workers, from giants like McDonald’s and Walmart to mom-and-pop businesses.” All by itself, McDonald’s costs taxpayers $1.2 billion a year. Read more »

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