Viktoria Marinova

The free press under assault: Investigative journalist raped and beaten to death

Viktoria Marinova is the fourth high-profile journalist to be killed in Europe since the beginning of 2017. Her death was particularly gruesome.

Authorities say Marinova was raped and beaten to death. Her semi-nude body was found in a park in the Danube town of Ruse on Saturday. She had been beaten so badly that she was unrecognizable.

“Viktoria’s death, the brutal manner in which she was killed, is an execution. It was meant to serve as an example, something like a warning,” Asen Yordanov, owner of news website Bivol.bg, told AFP.

Anyone who’s had the misfortune of speaking to me for more than five minutes, or whenever I’ve been moved to speak in a SAG-AFTRA L.A. board meeting, knows that one of my passions is the necessity and protection of a free press in the United States — and the safety of journalists and reporters.

Locally, I’m concerned with reporters being sent to fire lines to report on wildfires without being given adequate protection, i.e. breathing masks, etc.

And there is the greater concern of our current president breathing fire and brimstone against the press, even as threats of violence against American reporters ratchet up in response.

But around the world, the threat to reporters is so great it defies the imagination of people in America.

Separating families at the border… in a different context.

Let’s try this with a bit of a different context.

A Jewish family in Germany in the 1930s flees their home country to get away from Nazi thugs and the growing violence against them. They’ve heard horror stories of Jews being taken away and put in work camps. Their shops and homes are being vandalized and jackbooted paramilitary men are beating them in the streets.

They scrape together what they can and board a ship to America because Germany will undoubtedly attack England, so England is too close. They know if they stay they will die, even though their family has lived there for generations.

When they get to America, the authorities take the children away, and when the parents ask for asylum to escape the violence in Germany, the authorities lock them up in a detention center, saying it will be months or even years before their case is heard.

They don’t know where their children are. Their young children don’t know where they are.

Finally, a government official announces that the only way they’ll see their kids again is if they give up their claim to asylum and agree to be sent back immediately to Germany, where they face certain death.

Explain to me how this would not be a brutal thing for a country to do.
It will take a long time to wash this stain, and even if we do, it won’t ever completely go away. It’s a stain on the soul. The best we can do is re-think who we want to be: decent human beings, or brutal thugs.

It’s our choice.

If we choose brutality, they are not the “animals.” We are.

(And let’s not forget we did turn away Jews trying to seek asylum in America, and so did a few other countries. They wound up going back. And they died.)

How the hell is Daylight Saving Time still a thing?

Why doesn’t the rest of the country do what Florida has done? (Gods, who would have ever thought I’d say THAT?)

The sunshine state voted to move to Daylight Saving Time and stay there. Unless the federal government steps in and forces it to, Florida won’t fall back to standard time in a few months, it’ll stay on standard time year round.

The time change is stupid, silly, and pointless. Let’s do away with it. Either stay on DST or standard time, but do away with this idiocy.

“Last Week Tonight” with John Oliver explained it best:

Don’t blame NBC News for the Oprah tweet.

This morning I heard a radio talk show host griping about “NBC News” tweeting an “endorsement” of Oprah Winfrey for president.

That is incorrect. It was NOT NBC News that tweeted it, it was NBC, the network.

The third-party live tweeter working for NBC during the telecast was wrong to not include context referencing Seth Meyer’s joke. And the network was right to delete and apologize for the misunderstanding. But it was NOT NBC News‘ tweet.

That’s how fake news really works: slipping in that it was the news division, and then going on a hellfire and brimstone crusade against “the news media” over it.

I realize we’re living in a fact-free world now, but it still matters.

Dick Gordon, American astronaut, RIP

Another American hero is gone, the likes of which I despair of seeing in the rest of my lifetime.

Dick Gordon

Richard “Dick” Gordon, an Apollo-era NASA astronaut who became the fourth American to walk in space and one of 24 humans to fly to the moon, died on Monday, November6 at the age of 88.

The command module pilot had a lonely job on moon missions: He stayed in the CM while the two other astronauts descended to and walked on the moon.

Whenever the spacecraft orbited around the far side while astronauts were on the surface, the CMP would become, for a few minutes, the most cut-off, loneliest human being in the universe.

It might not have been as glamorous as walking on the moon, but it was heroism nonetheless.

During turbulent times, America was once able to soar to the moon, if ever so briefly. Now, we can’t seem to gather the courage, will, and ability to compromise to fix health care, tackle gun deaths and help those in poverty, the way other countries with fewer resources have done.

I miss America.

If we just ignore the neo-Nazis and white supremacists, will they go away?

Charlottesville Nazis

Some are advising people to not counter-protest when Nazis and white supremacists demonstrate or have a rally. Some are advising people to not pay attention to them or give them any more publicity. Let them shout into the “empty air,” as Tina Fey put it.

I understand the sentiment, I really do. If we were dealing with any other kind of loud-mouthed troublemakers, that is absolutely the right response.

But what about when Nazis start running for office? Do we speak up then or stay quiet so as not to give them undue attention?

What about when they start taking over local and state governments? Do we speak up then?

What about when they take over the national government?

It’ll be very easy to stay quiet then because the punishment for counter-protesting or speaking out will be jail… or worse. Make no mistake. Just as Hitler’s ultimate goals were quite evident years before he took over Germany, so the goals of the white supremacist movement are clear now: The elimination of non-white people from the United States “permanently.” If you’re listening, that’s what they’re saying, and I have no doubt they’re telling the truth about that.

When this kind of barbarism raises its ugly head, it can be truly said, “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.” We’re not even a hundred years away from the last example.

I do not advocate for counter-violence. Ultimately, that serves the goals of the white supremacist movement. They copy the tactics of Nazi thugs in the 20s and 30s who sought to provoke violence to justify brutal retaliation.

I do, however, advocate wholeheartedly showing up, speaking out, raising our voices. Do not be intimidated into either silence OR counter-violence.

Your headphones are spying on you, lawsuit alleges

A customer is suing Bose. Kyle Zak claims the audio company is using its headphones to spy on us.

The proposed class-action suit claims Bose uses its wireless headphones and Bose Connect app to collect private data and sell it to third parties. Zak says Bose is violating the U.S. Wiretap Act by “secretly collecting, transmitting, and disclosing its customers’ private music and audio selections to third parties, including a data mining company.”

Two things about this lawsuit bother me.

One, Zak’s claim trips my BS detector – just a little bit. On the other hand, smart TVs have been caught recording and storing our conversations, so headphones spying on us isn’t outside the realm of possibility.

But the bigger problem is this: Social media and internet providers already gather this information and now, thanks to a new law, are free to sell it to whomever they wish without your permission. Going after Bose is a moot point.

We live in paranoid times. But one need not fear the CIA or NSA as much as marketing agencies. They already know far more about you than national intelligence. Big Brother isn’t working nearly as hard to root out dissent as big corporations are violating every last vestige of our privacy to show us targeted ads.

I am, however, keeping a close eye on my Keurig from now on.