Society's ChildS


North Carolina church halts all weddings until same sex couples can marry

© Facebook
A North Carolina church says that it will not host any wedding ceremonies or sign any marriage licenses until couples of the same sex are provided the same opportunity to marry as straight couples.

In an interview that aired on Monday, Green Street United Methodist Church Senior Pastor Kelly Carpenter told WXII that heterosexual members of his congregation wanted same sex couples to "share a sense of the love that they have found."

On Friday, the church posted a statement to its Facebook page explaining that "the church sees injustice in the legal position of state government and the theological position of our denomination."

"North Carolina prohibits same sex marriage and all the rights and privileges marriage brings," the statement said. "The Leadership Council has asked that their ministers join others who refuse to sign any State marriage licenses until this right is granted to same sex couples."


The house across from Westboro Baptist is getting a rainbow pride paint job right now

© Gawker
By the end of today, the inhabitants of the Westboro Baptist Church compound in Topeka, Kansas, should have a new view out their windows, just past their FAG MARRIAGE DOOMS NATIONS sign: a new gay-rights center across the street, painted in brilliant rainbow colors, with a pride flag flying from a 30-foot flagpole.

Right now, a crew of volunteers is at work on the siding of a house opposite the headquarters of the publicity-hunting hate-preacher Fred Phelps.

The center is the work of a roving do-gooder named Aaron Jackson, a 31-year-old community-college dropout whose other projects have included opening orphanages in India and Haiti and buying a thousand acres of endangered rain forest in Peru. This year, his charity, Planting Peace, also intends to de-worm every child in Guatemala.

Jackson was drawn to Topeka after reading about Josef Miles, the local boy who last year, at the age of nine, photobombed one of the Westboro protests with a handmade sign that read "God Hates No One." Jackson had been looking for a way to support equality, anti-bullying programs, and some sort of pro-LGBT initiative, he said.

"I've been accused in the past of being all over the place, and they're probably right on some level," Jackson told me last night by phone. "Right now we are standing up to bigotry and promoting equality."


Can you make out Jesus' face in this drop-cloth?

© WHDH-TVThe alleged image of Jesus Christ on a drop-cloth
These days, it's not entirely uncommon to hear that Jesus' image has been found in the most unlikeliest of places. On pieces of toast, windows and in other bizarre locations, the Christian figure's likeness has purportedly appeared. Last week, though, a new location was added to the ever-growing list of apparitions, as Brian Krantz, a resident of Saugus, Mass., claims he found Christ's face on a drop-cloth.

In an interview with WHDH-TV, Krantz explained that he first used the cloth when he was painting his shutters four years ago. Then, he subsequently used it 50 or 60 additional times after that, before noticing what he believes could be a sign from God.

"My heart went a million miles an hour. I was hyperventilating," he told the outlet. "I can't deny this. This is what it is. It looks like Jesus Christ."

Heart - Black

The shame of America's gulag

© Illustration by Mr. Fish
If, as Fyodor Dostoevsky wrote, "the degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons" then we are a nation of barbarians. Our vast network of federal and state prisons, with some 2.3 million inmates, rivals the gulags of totalitarian states. Once you disappear behind prison walls you become prey. Rape. Torture. Beatings. Prolonged isolation. Sensory deprivation. Racial profiling. Chain gangs. Forced labor. Rancid food. Children imprisoned as adults. Prisoners forced to take medications to induce lethargy. Inadequate heating and ventilation. Poor health care. Draconian sentences for nonviolent crimes. Endemic violence.

Bonnie Kerness and Ojore Lutalo, both of whom I met in Newark, N.J., a few days ago at the office of American Friends Service Committee Prison Watch, have fought longer and harder than perhaps any others in the country against the expanding abuse of prisoners, especially the use of solitary confinement. Lutalo, once a member of the Black Liberation Army, an offshoot of the Black Panthers, first wrote Kerness in 1986 while he was a prisoner at Trenton State Prison, now called New Jersey State Prison. He described to her the bleak and degrading world of solitary confinement, the world of the prisoners like him held in the so-called management control unit, which he called "a prison within a prison." Before being released in 2009, Lutalo was in the management control unit for 22 of the 28 years he served for the second of two convictions - the first for a bank robbery and the second for a gun battle with a drug dealer. He kept his sanity, he told me, by following a strict regime of exercising in his tiny cell, writing, meditating and tearing up newspapers to make collages that portrayed his prison conditions.

"The guards in riot gear would suddenly wake you up at 1 a.m., force you to strip and make you grab all your things and move you to another cell just to harass you," he said when we spoke in Newark. "They had attack dogs with them that were trained to go for your genitals. You spent 24 hours alone one day in your cell and 22 the next. If you do not have a strong sense of purpose you don't survive psychologically. Isolation is designed to defeat prisoners mentally, and I saw a lot of prisoners defeated."

Lutalo's letter was Kerness' first indication that the U.S. prison system was creating something new - special detention facilities that under international law are a form of torture. He wrote to her: "How does one go about articulating desperation to another who is not desperate? How does one go about articulating the psychological stress of knowing that people are waiting for me to self-destruct?"


Maintaining mental health in the age of madness

"Americans have a remarkable ability 'to look reality right in the eye' and deny it."
~Garrison Keillor~
The World Health Organization defines mental health as "a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community." A state of well-being is obviously more than just the absence of disease. It assumes that a human being is reasonably functional mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Similarly, this definition can be applied to healthy communities with the addition of social functionality as another aspect of well-being.

However, most readers are aware of the decline in mental health treatment within the past three decades. Whereas thirty years ago many working people had insurance benefits for outpatient psychotherapy as well as in-patient treatment, not only have the benefits dramatically decreased, but massive unemployment makes it virtually impossible for millions of people to pay for any kind of health care, physical or mental.

Meanwhile, nearly all inhabitants and communities of industrial civilization are struggling to cope with living in societies in unprecedented decline. Energy depletion, climate change, economic contraction, and the collapse of myriad institutions such as healthcare, education, infrastructure, and police and fire services weigh heavily on the wallets and emotions of millions. In the United States, the realities of the sequester debacle will only exacerbate the unraveling, and for many, avoiding homelessness and starvation are top priorities with nothing left over for any kind of healthcare. Yet it is precisely this demographic who are contending with monumental stress, and for many of them, just as they may be one paycheck away from being homeless, they may also be one stress away from mental and emotional meltdown.


Colorado Corrections Dept. chief shot, killed at home

© Photo: Colorado Dept. of CorrectionsTom Clements, director of the Colorado Department of Corrections, was shot and killed Tuesday night at his home in Monument, Colo.
The head of the Colorado Department of Corrections has been shot and killed at his home, and authorities say the gunman is on the loose.

Sheriff's Lt. Jeff Kramer says Tom Clements was shot to death around 8:30 p.m. Tuesday night when he answered his front door in Monument, north of Colorado Springs. Police are searching for the shooter.

Clements, 58, lived in Monument and was appointed to serve as the head of the DOC by Governor John Hickenlooper in January 2011, reports CBS station KCNC in Denver. He oversaw operations of state and private prisons and parole operations. Clements came to Colorado from Missouri, where he worked for 31 years in the Missouri Department of Corrections.

Eye 2

Teen psychopath: Ohio school shooter, wearing 'KILLER' T-shirt, sentenced to life in prison

© Pool/The News-Herald via APT.J. Lane, wearing a "KILLER" T-shirt, smirks as he listens to the judge during sentencing on Tuesday in Chardon, Ohio.
Editor's warning: This story contains graphic content.

An Ohio judge has sentenced T.J. Lane, the Ohio teen charged with shooting three students to death and wounding three others last February, to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Lane showed up to his sentencing wearing a white T-shirt with the word "KILLER" in capital letters scrawled on it -- the same word police say he had emblazoned on his shirt the day of the shootings at Chardon High School.

Lane, 18, pleaded guilty last month to all charges against him in the Feb. 27, 2012, shootings, in which he opened fire on a cafeteria table full of students in the rural community of Chardon.

In a brief statement during his sentencing on Tuesday, Lane flipped his middle finger at people in the courtroom, which included family members of his victims, reported NBC affiliate He revealed his "KILLER" T-shirt to the court once he was inside, taking off a blue button-down he had worn on the way in, the station reported.

Bizarro Earth

Sheriff: Missing Missouri mom faked abduction

© Chariton County Sheriff's Office/AP PhotoRachel Koechner and her 4-year-old daughter Zoee Sandner are shown in this undated photo.
A Rothville, Mo., woman, who had been reported missing along with her young daughter, allegedly faked her abduction, according to the county sheriff.

Rachel Koechner, 28, and her 4-year-old daughter, Zoee Sandner, were reported missing last Thursday night by Koechner's mother and boyfriend after the boyfriend received a text that read "help me." They had last seen the pair earlier that same day, Brenda Koechner, Rachel's mother, said.

"I didn't know what to think," Brenda Koechner said.

The elder Koechner says she was worried and didn't have a clue as to where her daughter and granddaughter might be.

Police received information that Koechner and her daughter had been spotted in the nearby town of Brookfield that same day, where Devon Sandner, Koechner's ex-husband and the father of her child lives, so it was believed they might all be together, Chariton County Sheriff Chris Hughes said.


Vet who was a saviour in Iraq finally overwhelmed by his own demons

© AP Photo/Brock McNabbIn this Autumn 2006 photo provided by Brock McNabb, McNabb places a "combat patch" on Pete Linnerooth's uniform at their office in Baghdad, denoting that he had been in-country long enough to earn the badge of honor and is officially a combat veteran. Capt. Linnerooth was an Army psychologist who counseled soldiers during some of the fiercest fighting in Iraq. Hundreds upon hundreds sought his help. For nightmares and insomnia. For shock and grief. And for reaching that point where they just wanted to end it all. Linnerooth did such a good job his Army comrades dubbed him The Wizard. His "magic" was deceptively simple: an instant rapport with soldiers, an empathetic manner, a big heart.
He had a knack for soothing soldiers who'd just seen their buddies killed by bombs. He knew how to comfort medics sickened by the smell of blood and troops haunted by the screams of horribly burned Iraqi children.

Capt. Peter Linnerooth was an Army psychologist. He counseled soldiers during some of the fiercest fighting in Iraq. Hundreds upon hundreds sought his help. For nightmares and insomnia. For shock and grief. And for reaching that point where they just wanted to end it all.

Linnerooth did such a good job his Army comrades dubbed him The Wizard. His "magic" was deceptively simple: an instant rapport with soldiers, an empathetic manner, a big heart.

For a year during one of the bloodiest stretches of the Iraq war, Linnerooth met with soldiers 60 to 70 hours a week. Sometimes he'd hop on helicopters or join convoys, risking mortars and roadside bombs. Often, though, the soldiers came to his shoebox-sized "office" at Camp Liberty in Baghdad.

Linnerooth knew when to be a friend and when to be a professional Army officer. He could be tough, even gruff at times, but he also was a gentle soul, a born storyteller, a proud dad who decorated his quarters with his kids' drawings and photos. He carried his newborn daughter's shoes on his ruck sack for good luck.

Linnerooth left Iraq in 2007, a few months short of the end of his 15-month tour. He couldn't take it anymore. He'd heard enough terrible stories. He'd seen enough dead and dying.


Dog brings home dead baby in Oklahoma City

A dog in Oklahoma City came home on Saturday carrying a dead newborn in its mouth.

A house sitter, whose name has not been released, was at the home at the time, KOCO reported.

The house sitter told KFOR that the dog, a 6-month-old mixed-breed named Luke, showed up at the door with the body of a three to five-pound infant in his mouth.

"He was carrying it just like a momma pup," she told the station, "and layed it at my feet."

The house sitter stressed that the body had no markings or signs of trauma, and that Luke would never have hurt anyone. She believes the dog was trying to help the infant.

"I believe [Luke] found it, picked it up and brought it. There was no trauma you could tell he inflicted," she said.