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31 July 2020

POV: Stop The Shaming. Just Read This And Pass It On . . . .

POV: Duke Banned From Twitter

By Brad Smith

David Duke's been banned from Twitter.

According to the social media platform, the one-time KKK grand wizard, neo-Nazi, Trump supporter and all-around piece of white trash has finally been bounced for violating policies on hateful conduct. Last month, Duke was banned from YouTube and was banned from Facebook in 2018. Twitter's action no doubt caught Duke's more than 53,000 followers off guard.

It's certain some here in the Rogue Valley will be angered by this action.


30 July 2020

OSF Actor Files Suit Against Sheriff's Office

By Brad Smith

MEDFORD, Ore. -- A former Oregon Shakespeare Festival actor filed a lawsuit against the Jackson County Sheriff's Office Tuesday, claiming he lost consciousness as a corrections deputy pinned him to the ground with a knee.

The suit also claims the man was chained and handcuffed to a drainage grate for more than two hours.

According to the Ashland Police Dept.,  Juan Anthony "Tony" Sancho, 44, was arrested at around 2:30 a.m. APD released a statement about the incident. There was an anonymous report of a man passed out. When police arrived, the statement said, "Sancho, was mobile but very intoxicated and moving from sidewalk to street and back."

"The officers got him seated and tried at length to get Mr. Sancho to say where he was staying and whether there was a responsible adult they could leave him with to sober up. Mr. Sancho either couldn’t or wouldn’t provide enough information to assist with this," the press release read. "Having no other options, the officers told Mr. Sancho they felt he was not able to safely care for himself and they would, therefore, have to take him to a detox facility until he could sober up."

The release noted that Sancho initially agreed but once informed he would have to be put into handcuff in order to be taken into a detox facility he, " fairly calmly opposed handcuffing efforts."

"A day or so later, I contacted the Jackson County District Attorney’s office and requested that the charge of resisting arrest not be filed by the DA’s office," wrote Ashland PD chief Tighe O'Maera. " I did this not because I felt the charge was unwarranted, but rather because I thought that an important ongoing dialogue and relationship building effort would be ill-served by pursuing this prosecution. The DA’s office agreed to this request, and the charge was not filed."

OSF actor Kevin Kenerly was upset about Sancho's treatment by APD.

"He was two blocks away from his home," he  said. "Two blocks. This could have been handled differently."

In a statement, Sheriff Nate Sickler said he took all allegations of excessive force seriously and they are investigated accordingly.

Fire Season Goes Up Another Level

By Brad Smith

JACKSON COUNTY, Ore. -- On 12:01 a.m. July 31, the Rogue Valley goes to Extreme Fire Danger level.

It's not a big shock. Southern Oregon typically hits the Red threat level this time of year. So far, the Rogue Valley's been very lucky. What few vegetation fires that have occurred were hit hard and fast by local agencies. According to the National Weather Service, the hot, dry weather will continue.

28 July 2020

A Brief Overview of Hate and Extremism In Southern Oregon

By Brad Smith
JACKSON COUNTY, Ore. -- Oregon has a problem with hate groups and other extremists – and the Rogue Valley and surrounding area isn’t immune.
It's time for a history lesson.
Jackson County was where the Ku Klux Klan gained their foothold in the state. According to the Oregon Historical Society, Klansmen – also known as Kleagles – arrived in southern Oregon, via California and southern states in 1921. Oregon’s first Klansman was formally sworn in Medford while Kleagles found patriotic recruits from Portland to Pendleton. By 1923, the state’s Klansmen reportedly numbered more than 35,000 while many joined the Women of the Ku Klux Klan, the Junior Order of Klansmen for teenagers and the Royal Riders of the Red Robe for foreign-born Protestants.
However, by the mid-1920s, the Klan suffered a number of sex scandals in both Oregon and across the county, causing the organization to implode. Some local Klan groups struggled to survive but never had the power they once did. The KKK saw resurgence in the Civil Rights era and has been hanging on ever since, despite a number of legal setbacks during the last few decades. To date, a number of Klan groups are reportedly active in Oregon: The United Northern and Southern Knights of the Ku Klux Klan (this group has been posting recruitment posters and flyers throughout southern Oregon), the Pacific Coast Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, based out of Vancouver, Wash.
Neo-Nazi groups have made Oregon their home: According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the National Socialist Movement has a chapter in the Salem-Portland area with splinter groups popping up across the state from time to time.  A few years ago, flyers promoting the American Vanguard have appeared in Rogue Valley communities and one of Oregon’s most notorious neo-Nazis, Jimmy Marr (his Twitter handle is Genocide Jimmy) has been sighted in Ashland over the last few years. Other groups of Nazis and white supremacists include the American Front, the American Patriot Brigade, Identity Evropa, The Right Stuff, the Northwest Hammerskins, Crew 38 and True Cascadia: The latter, known for inciting fights via social media, once Tweeted, “Mother Nature is a White Supremacist. She has cautiously shown favor to her mightiest children.”
A Black friend of mine, an actor with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, told me that over 25 years ago, he would run into Grants Pass skinheads . . . . Skinheads cruising liberal Ashland bars looking to stir up trouble. Looking to provoke people and start fights. According to him, that happened a lot back in the day. Today, they use social media to stir things up.
Sometimes, hate groups don’t need to wear white robes or march down streets with Tiki torches and chanting “Blood and soil.” Instead, they can and do appear under the guise of something else. In 2000, the group Oregonians for Immigration Reform was formed and has been based out of McMinnville. OFIR worked to put Measure 105 on the 2018 ballot – which was defeated. The Oregonian and other state media reported OFIR has been linked to white nationalist John Tanton, who has said, “One of my prime concerns is about the decline of folks who look like you and me . . . for European-American society and culture to persist requires a European-American majority, and a clear one at that.” 
Last year, U.S. Inc., another hate group linked to Tanton, donated over $3,000 to the OFIR’s anti-immigration effort. The OFIR’s ballot measure had the support of right wing extremists from white supremacists to other groups like the Proud Boys and Patriot Prayer.
Anti-government groups have been more visible in southern Oregon the last few years. Until two years ago, the Oath Keepers had a presence in Josephine County, under the leadership of Joseph Rice. The Oath Keepers, along with a similar anti-government extremist group III Percenters, have been connected to Islamophobic and anti-immigrant groups. During the Sugar Pine Mine uproar, Rice, his Oath Keepers and a motley assortment of III Percenters and paramilitary wannabes prepared to face off against the federal government. The issue was later resolved in the courts. However, two years later, Rice and his group broke off ties with the Oath Keepers, due to disagreements with national leader Stewart Rhodes. Since then, Rice reorganized his group into Liberty Watch of Josephine County.
In some places, bigoted views are openly expressed and even encouraged.
When I started stringing for The Rogue River Press, local churches took out ad space for their Sunday service and so on. One pastor used his advert space to launch vicious attacks against Muslims. Now, the publisher said the pastor had a right to use that space however he wanted -- after all, he did pay for it. What was bothersome . . . no one complained about it. No one said anything. The pastor's congregation said nothing. Subscribers -- nothing. Businesses advertising in the paper didn't have a problem with it.
Something like that wouldn't have happened in Ashland or Talent. Someone would have complained.
Sept. 11, 2016. Rogue River. I was covering a 9/11 event held by the local VFW and was talking to a post officer. As I mentioned the issue regarding Colin Kaepernick, another VFW member overheard the conversation and said: "Kaepernick. That sonuvabitch. Where's the goddamned KKK when you need them the most?"
That VFW officer? He smiled. Laughed. Said nothing and did nothing. Like the time when a Rogue River planning commissioner uttered a racist slur about Asians during a meeting. Nothing was done.
That's the problem we have here. People need to know that this happens here and it shouldn't be acceptable or enabled.
Or ignored.
There's so much more to talk about, other right extremists and those who have hate mongering agendas. Keith "Biome" Michael Erickson. Jeff Rense. Bill Meyer. Ryan Mallory. Andrew Patterson.
Oregon -- especially the Rogue Valley and surrounding area -- has a history of hate. Now and again, from this point on, we're going to talk about it.
And, see what we can do to shut it down.

22 July 2020

Antilockdown Rally in Medford, County Commish Ignores Covid-19 Threat

Note: This rally happened on 16 May 2020. I covered the event and wrote the article -- however, the publisher cut the it so much that it was nothing but a puff piece. They omitted key elements about Roberts' recklessness, the lawsuit and so on. I told the publisher not to run it.

By Brad Smith

MEDFORD, Ore. -- A few hundred or so protesters descended upon the Jackson County Saturday to decry alleged constitutional rights violations and other so-called inconveniences they’ve supposedly suffered due to the state’s COVID-19 guidelines and restrictions.
The event came one day after Oregon started the first phase of slowly reopening. According to Harvard’s Global Health Institute, Oregon – along with Alaska, Hawaii, Montana, North Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming – was performing the right number of CV-19 tests per day to properly and safely phase social distancing and other measures. Jackson County and over 30 others gradually reopened.
Event organizers said they would proceed with the rally regardless and said they expected over 1,000 participants. However, the numbers fell short of that.
While such an event usually requires a permit, the city of Medford said one wasn’t approved due to Gov. Kate Brown’s shelter in place orders. “In accordance with (Brown’s) statewide directive to cancel all events and gatherings larger than 25 people – in response to COVID-19 – (Medford) is not approving special event permits at this time,” said a press release.
Chief Scott Clauson, Medford Police Dept., issued a statement stating that his agency wouldn’t stop the event because MPD support individuals’ right to exercise constitutional freedoms. Last week, the Jackson Co. Sheriff’s Office stated they would not be enforcing the state’s pandemic guidelines.
Despite both law enforcement agencies urging people to practice social distancing while out in public, event co-organizer Amy Rose said social distancing and other measures would not be enforced.
“We feel people are smart enough to do what’s best for themselves,” she said in media statements.
However, shortly after the 1 p.m. start time, event organizers – with county commissioner Colleen Roberts and state senator Herman Bautschiger (R – Grants Pass) present – urged protesters to move in closer and crowd together. Which they did.
Aside from disregarding social distancing, protesters also ignored mask guidelines. Many parents brought their children along and none wore masks either.
After a large April 24 lockdown protest in Madison, Wis., more than 72 people who attended were infected with CV-19. And, across the country and even the world, other places that have reopened are seeing surges of new cases. Germany’s leaders are looking at closing down after reopening.
Sarah Paisley was upset over the restrictions hitting religious organizations.
“I want to be in my church,” she said. “I don’t like this at all, being told I can’t be in my church and worshiping. This isn’t right.
Paisley acknowledged that the virus was initially a threat but “they” used it to get power over people.
“This is all about power and control,” she said. “It’s government overreach and it’s not right. We’re safe here, we’ve had a few cases and one’s dead. We’ll be fine – just let us open back up.”
Since the gathering restrictions went into effect late March, churches, synagogues, mosques and other places of worship have been adapting to the pandemic response. Gatherings under 25 people have been using social distancing or using social media platforms to have services online.
Ten churches across the state have filed a lawsuit against Gov. Brown earlier this month. The suit alleges that the governor is not acting according to the state constitution. Ray Hacke, a one-time sportswriter, is a staff attorney with the Pacific Justice Institute, is representing the churches. PJI, a Sacramento, Calif.-based organization, has been designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group since it has challenged same-sex marriage laws and tried to champion reparative or conversion therapies – which have been debunked by many mental health professionals.
Hacke represented some churches in the Bay Area who opposed a cannabis dispensary. Although city commissioners did eventually side with the churches, an SF Weekly reporter covering the case wrote that Hacke’s courtroom antics rivaled Joe Pesci’s performance in “My Cousin Vinny.”
A local hate group, The RV Saltshakers – known for displaying graphic bloody images and attacking the LGBT community – was also present and did nothing to hide pictures from passing children. A few Confederate battle flags were displayed too – the Confederate government was founded upon slavery and oppression of blacks and upholding white supremacy. The Faith and Freedom event organizers didn’t object to the displays.
A number of participants handed out pamphlets about COVID-19 conspiracy theories:
• Some claimed that 5G technology caused the virus. Others said that Bill Gates and the “Big Pharma” cabal was behind the pandemic. The same pamphlets said contact tracing, a valuable tool in fighting pandemics, was a prelude to martial law and American citizens being herded into death camps.
• Some pamphlets repeated a debunked claim made by the Trump Administration that the Wuhan Institute of Virology received millions of dollars in grants from the previous administration. The money, the claim goes, came via the National Institutes of Health. The money actually went to the US based EcoHealth Alliance and $600,000 went to the Chinese lab. The same pamphlets also repeated claims made in the widely discredited video, Plandemic.
When Roberts spoke, she expressed her concerns about Jackson County’s Christians from attending church – however, she never said anything about the county’s number of Jewish, Muslim, Sikh and other adherents.
According to polling data collected from different sources, Americans who take part in anti-lockdown protests are in the minority. The majority of the country do support lockdowns and are wary of opening too soon. Polls conducted by Fox News Channel and others revealed varying numbers for support, from 56 percent to 81 percent of Americans approve of such guidelines and restrictions.

Hacke's lawsuit failed. A Baker County judge attempted to run with it but the Oregon State Supreme Court shut it down.

As of July, the state is experiencing surges of new Covid-19 cases. Gov. Brown has issued new mandates in an effort to avoid another lockdown.

Many in the Southern Oregon area are refusing to comply.

All in the name of "freedom" . . . .

21 July 2020


History repeats itself.
Over a century ago, a flu pandemic ravaged the world . . . and stupid and selfish people balked at the idea of wearing masks.
Anti-mask groups were everywhere.
People died.
Over a hundred years later, Americans still haven't learned a damn thing.

That's how you do it . . . .

That's how you do it . . . .

20 July 2020

Woman recalls her loss amid abortion controversy

Note: This was originally written in November 2016. The Rogue River Press publisher opted not to run it because she felt the right to life side didn't have enough of "their side" presented. The Oregon Right to Life group didn't have anyone to interview -- they told me to find someone on Facebook. So, the story never ran.

By Brad Smith
On Oct. 19, 2016, as she watched the third and final presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, Jillian Schoene found herself angered by one remark made by the latter: “You can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb in the ninth month, on the final day.”
The following day, both social media and news outlets were filled with reactions from doctors, nurses and other healthcare specialists, all of whom asserted that Trump was wrong. In The New York Times, Dr. Aaron B. Caughey, the chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at the Oregon Health and Science University, stated that such procedures do not occur in the United States. The doctor cited situations if the woman’s life was at risk – but even then, labor would be induced or a cesarean section performed. Moreover, he added, the term abortion would not be used. In those cases, it is called the induction of labor for a nonviable pregnancy.
Schoene found herself upset as she read the reactions.
“(Trump’s) lack of knowledge really got to me,” she said. “He didn’t know what he was talking about and he made it sound so cavalier. I know – because I had to make a terrible choice that no parent should have to make. You shouldn’t say something like that unless you have all the facts.”
Schoene and her husband had always wanted a family and they were “thrilled beyond belief” after learning she was having a baby.  Learning they were going to have a girl, Schoene and her husband picked out a name – Annabelle Rose. For several weeks, their lives were filled with medical checkups and preparations for Annabelle Rose’s arrival. In August 2012, Schoene had what she thought was a routine checkup with her doctor and at the time, she was 22 weeks pregnant.
The routine checkup took a “shocking turn” when her doctor gave her some news, Schoene said.
According to test results, the doctor said Annabelle Rose had a form of skeletal dysplasia, a genetic condition that would not allow her rib cage to grow. Schoene said it meant that from her daughter’s very first breath after being born, the ribs would prevent her lungs from expanding.

“In other words, she physically wouldn’t be able to breath,” she added. “Along with that, the doctor found other physical and mental developmental complications. It was very heartbreaking to hear. I can’t explain how surreal it is to have a conversation in which your doctor carefully and calmly explains to you that your baby girl will suffocate at birth.”

Schoene’s doctor urged her to seek out other opinions. So, she went to the Oregon Health and Science University and consulted with doctors there. Again, the results were the same and Schoene found herself facing an agonizing decision. “I had two choices: Carry Annabelle Rose to term and watch and listen as she tried to take a breath, but couldn’t – suffer as she gasped for air – or induce delivery at 23 weeks and allow her to quietly and less painfully pass away.”

It was very traumatic, Schoene said, but she knew the right choice had been made.

“My husband and I didn’t want Annabelle Rose to slip away like that. But, the reality was a horrible one,” she said. “What kind of mother would I be if I allowed my baby girl to suffer like that?”

In Oregon, such medical procedures are legal. According to Mary Nolan, executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon, they are rarely performed.

“We are talking about planned, wanted pregnancies,” she said. “That’s what happened with Jillian. She wanted that baby – but something went wrong. These so-called ‘late term abortions’ total up to one percent or so of procedures performed in the state. That’s one percent – a hundred or so procedures.”

According to the Guttmacher Institute, a research and policy organization focused on reproductive health issues and rights in the United States, of the more than 1 million abortions performed in the United States in 2011, about 12,000, or 1.3 percent happened after 21 weeks, more than halfway through a 40-week pregnancy. In that same year, in Oregon, 65,900 of the 758,988 women of reproductive age became pregnant. 68 percent of these pregnancies resulted in live births and 16 percent in induced abortions, while the rest miscarried. The Institute also reported that in 2011, 10,690 women obtained abortions in Oregon, producing a rate of 14.1 abortions per 1,000 women of reproductive age. Some of these women were from other states, and some Oregon residents had abortions in other states, so this rate may not reflect the abortion rate of state residents. The rate decreased 18 percent since 2008, when it was 17.2 abortions per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44. Abortions in Oregon represent 1.0 percent of all abortions in the country.

“Overall, unwanted births and abortions have been dropping for some time,” Nolan said. “It’s because we have better family planning, better access to contraceptives and more realistic approaches to sex education these days. That’s what we want to see.

“However, in cases like Jillian’s, women need to have that choice available to them. “

Liberty Pike, communications director of the anti-choice organization, Oregon Right to Life, felt that Trump’s statement was valid. “These horrible things happen. It’s very barbaric and it needs to be stopped.” However, Pike did not provide data on such alleged procedures.

Pike’s organization opposes abortions – even in cases of rape and incest – but does feel that the procedures are necessary only when the mother’s or infant’s life is at severe risk. The organization also opposes Oregon’s death with dignity law.

“I really do feel sorry for (Schoene),” she said. “No parent should be put in that situation. I’m glad that she consulted her doctor about it – but what if the doctor was wrong. What if both doctors consulted were wrong? Mistakes can happen. That could have been the case here. Even if the mother carried the infant to full term,” Pike said, “there could have been a chance of life. Again, doctors can make mistakes. We here at ORTL, as I stated before, feel abortions are only necessary when the mother’s or infant’s life is at risk. Was the infant really at risk?”

Schoene said she developed a “good, strong relationship” with her doctor and trusted the diagnosis.

“My doctor knew there was something wrong. We discussed my options and I was urged to seek out another opinion,” she said. “I had one of the best doctors at OHSU examine me and the diagnosis was the same. To even suggest that everyone I talked to was ‘wrong,’ well, that’s ludicrous. I would even say ‘deluded.’”

Schoene said she felt fortunate to be in Oregon, where she could have the medical procedure done.

“I know some people might think I’m terrible and I’ve even been called a murderer,” she said. “Contrary to what those people say, I loved my daughter. I wanted Annabelle Rose to be a beautiful, healthy girl and I wanted to watch her grow up. I wanted so many things.

“Then, that one day in August, it all changed.”

Time passed. Schoene and her husband moved forward with their lives. A few years later, during another routine checkup, Schoene learned she was pregnant.

“I was excited but apprehensive,” she said. “I thought about my daughter during that time. I didn’t want to go through this again. However, I now have a highly energetic boy named Cole and he gets excited about Halloween and Christmas. I’m so glad that we have him. He’s everything that we ever wanted.”

Since her experience, Schoene has worked hard to keep women’s access to healthcare and their right to choose intact. She has testified before legislative hearings and shared her experiences whenever possible. By doing that, Schoene hopes people will have a better understanding of why she has made her choices. – and why other women make similar choices.

"No one should ever have to make that decision," she said. "At least, here in Oregon, if someone has to, they have options available to them."

Unknown Man Assaults Transgender Woman -- Let's Find Out Who He Is

  I received this message last night: "A friend of mine was assaulted at work by a customer for being transgender. The police don’t car...