Suspect Arrested In Murder Of Transgender Woman India Clarke

Police in Tampa, Florida, have arrested a man they believe murdered India Clarke, whose death put her on a growing list of transgender woman killed violently in the U.S. this year.

DNA evidence linked 18-year-old Keith Lamayne Gaillard to Clarke’s death, according to a Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office press release. Investigators found Gaillard’s DNA under Clarke’s fingernails, as well as on a condom containing fluid in her car. Police said the suspect’s fingerprint was found on a cigar wrapper in the car.

Clarke had died at a family-friendly park in Tampa on July 21. Detectives initially reported that the cause of death was blunt force trauma, but revealed this week that she’d been shot in the head and arm.

A maintenance worker found Clarke’s body on the morning of July 21 in the park at the University Area Community Center.

In addition to the DNA and fingerprint evidence, the sheriff’s office noted that Gaillard was holding a .22-caliber handgun in one of his Facebook photos. Clarke’s wounds, authorities said, were consistent with such a gun.

The motive for her death is not unclear.

After the shooting, Gaillard allegedly went to a friend’s house and said, “I think I killed somebody.” He then sold his gun to the friend for $50, according to police. 

When deputies confronted him, they found a scratch on his neck, “consistent with a fight” and with the discovery of another person’s DNA under Clarke’s fingernails.

Gaillard has been charged with first-degree murder and possession of a firearm by a career criminal. He’s being held on $275,000 bail.

Clarke was reportedly the 10th transgender woman murdered this year in the United States. Her community mourned her last week, demanding swift action for what many called a hate crime.

Meanwhile, her parents and authorities refused to call her by her preferred pronouns. 

“We are not going to categorize him as a transgender. We can just tell you he had women’s clothing on at the time,” detective Larry McKinnon told BuzzFeed News. “What his lifestyle was prior to that we don’t know — whether he was a cross-dresser, we don’t know.”

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Lawyers Claim Medical Neglect At ICE Family Detention Centers

Women locked up with their children at family detention centers in Texas have been repeatedly subjected to medical neglect, alleges a complaint lodged Thursday with the Department of Homeland Security.

The letter, sent by the CARA pro bono project, which represents women and children in family detention, to the DHS Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties outlines 10 cases of alleged medical neglect at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley and the Karnes County Residential Center. The complaint marks another blow to the Obama administration’s controversial policy of detaining immigrant families, a week after a federal judge said the practice is illegal and should be discontinued.

Medical staff routinely told women and children at the Dilley facility to “drink more water,” even when they showed up with symptoms including broken bones, severe weight loss and fainting spells, attorneys said in the letter. Detainees seeking treatment waited up to 14 hours to speak to a health professional, sometimes receiving no medication or little follow-up treatment, says the letter, which appears in full below.

“Mothers and children often enter the detention centers with injuries or illnesses that remain untreated throughout the duration of their detention,” the letter reads. “The detention of sick mothers and children, when they could be released to families, friends or community-based organizations willing to take them in, is inhumane.”

One of the women, identified by the pseudonym “Yaniret,” said she took her 5-year-old daughter for medical treatment at the Karnes family detention center in early May, after noting an odd vaginal secretion. The doctor said he would swab the outer area of the child’s vagina, but instead forced a probe into her, making her scream from pain. The doctor wrote a prescription for antibiotics to treat the infection, but Yaniret couldn’t get the medicine at the detention center.

Weeks later, the child refused to be examined by a different doctor because of her bad experience, the letter says. In June, Yaniret and her daughter went with a woman from the Honduran consulate to an outside clinic, where a doctor once again prescribed medicine that Yaniret says she couldn’t obtain at the detention center. When she showed a journalist a diaper stained with her daughter’s untreated secretion, guards at the center punished Yaniret by denying her food, the letter says.

Another woman, identified as “Jessica,” fled Honduras with her two children, aged 4 and 6, after being targeted by the M-18 gang. She arrived at the center suffering from painful breast cancer but medical staff declined to see her, saying that they were only there to treat children, Jessica said. She later developed a severe headache that caused nine days of repeated vomiting. She has lost 13 pounds since being detained, according to CARA.

A woman called “Melinda” arrived at the detention center with broken bones in her hand resulting from five days of repeated beatings and rape after she was kidnapped by a gang in El Salvador, the letter says. A doctor instructed her to drink water.

In response to the letter, Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Richard Rocha emailed The Huffington Post a statement saying the agency operates family detention centers transparently and that the facilities have medical care, play rooms and social workers. 

“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) takes very seriously the health, safety and welfare of those in our care,” the statement says. “The agency is committed to ensuring that individuals housed in our family residential centers receive timely and appropriate medical health care.”

Both detention centers mentioned in the complaint are run as for-profit enterprises by private prison contractors. Corrections Corporation of America runs the Dilley facility, while the GEO Group runs the detention center at Karnes. Both companies have issued several statements denying wrongdoing and referring further questioning to ICE.

Allegations of neglect and other abuses have plagued the family detention system since the Obama administration expanded it last year. In another case earlier this month, a mother who fled Honduras after a gang threatened to kill her daughter said her child vomited blood for a week without receiving medication or being released from detention. Celina Gutiérrez Cruz and her 6-year-old daughter have passed initial screening for withholding of deportation — a form of relief similar to asylum — but ICE has refused to release them from detention. Both of them suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, according to a psychological evaluation.

CARA filed a writ of habeas corpus Thursday demanding that ICE release Gutiérrez, who has been detained since January.

“This is a very rare and rarely needed step,” Andrew Free, an attorney who works with CARA to represent detainees, told HuffPost. “Prolonged detention habeas corpus petitions are usually filed when people have been held in detention when facing criminal charges… But we think there is an urgent, pressing need to have an independent, federal judge look at this detention.”

The Obama administration largely abandoned the policy of locking up immigrant families in detention in 2009, but ramped it up once more last year during an unprecedented influx of unaccompanied minors and female-headed families crossing to the U.S., mostly from the violence-plagued Central American countries of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.

A federal judge ruled earlier this month, however, that the policy violates the 1997 Flores settlement, which requires the federal government to detain undocumented children in the least restrictive setting possible and to adopt a “general policy favoring release.” The government has until Aug. 3 to respond to the ruling.  

The allegations of abuse and neglect, coupled with the adverse court ruling, have made family detention unpopular among many Democrats. Some 178 Democratic members of the House of Representatives issued a letter Friday calling for the Obama administration to eliminate it.

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Free Speech Is No Threat to Gun Ownership

Doctors and medical personnel throughout Florida will soon be under new orders: Talk to your patients about gun safety and risk losing your right to practice medicine. Two federal judges, who last year ruled that “patient-privacy” and gun ownership t…


New York City Considers Divesting From Walmart Over Gun Sales

NEW YORK — New York City may divest hundreds of millions of dollars from Walmart and other big-name stores that sell guns and ammunition less than two years after it yanked investments in the country’s biggest gun manufacturers. 

Trustees for the New York City Employees Retirement System, or NYCERS, one of the largest U.S. pension funds with more than 300,000 active members, passed a resolution this week to study the impact of selling its shares in major gun retailers, including Walmart, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and Cabela’s. 

“Our nation is bleeding from gun violence, and we cannot and should not bolster the gun retailers whose weapons are used to kill and maim our citizens,” Public Advocate Letitia James, who introduced the resolution, said in a statement. 

 “Our public money must not be invested in companies that fundamentally undermine our public safety,” James continued. “We need to study the potential consequences and risks of continuing to own equity and fixed income holdings in gun retailers, whose weapons and ammunition reach the streets, towns and cities across our country.” 

James, in a New York Daily News editorial Thursday, called on the city’s four other pension funds to pass similar resolutions.  

New York City’s five pension funds have nearly $300 million invested in Walmart. NYCERS alone has 1.2 million shares of Walmart, valued at $109 million. 

In her editorial, James pointed to the deaths of people across the Northeast killed with bullets or firearms purchased at Walmart, the foremost U.S. gun retailer. 

“Just over three weeks ago, two people in Pennsylvania were killed in their car with ammunition purchased at Walmart,” James wrote. “Over a period of several weeks this spring, a 22-year-old man killed seven men and women in New Jersey and Pennsylvania with ammunition purchased at Walmart. And in March, a Cornell student killed his father in New York using a firearm purchased at Walmart.”

James emphasized that Walmart “doesn’t just sell hunting rifles,” but also assault-style rifles with high-capacity magazines, semi-automatic weapons and ammunition. 

James also highlighted millions of dollars Walmart has given to political candidates endorsed by the National Rifle Association, as well as the company’s previous ties to American Legislative Executive Council, an advocacy group opposed to gun control that Walmart quit in 2012. 

“If we want real change, we have to hit Walmart where it hurts: in their pocketbook,” James wrote. “New York City must divest the hundreds of millions of dollars we have invested in Walmart for far too long, dollars that are only fueling violence and undermining the greater public interest. Once our nation’s largest city does so, I know other states and municipalities will follow suit.” 

Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove told The Huffington Post Friday that the company doesn’t comment when individuals decide to buy or sell shares. Hargrove noted the company has more than 3.2 billion shares outstanding.

Walmart has a “longstanding commitment to [sell firearms] safely and responsibly through trained associates and compliance with our standards,” Hargrove said. “Those standards greatly exceed what’s required by the law.” 

In 2008, Walmart reached an agreement with then-New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg — founder of Mayors Against Illegal Guns — to toughen policies for gun sales. 

New York City has some of the strictest gun regulations in the country. Ninety percent of guns recovered from crime scenes here in 2011 were traced to out-of-state sources, predominantly Southern states with lax gun laws. 

More than 12,000 Americans were killed by guns in 2013 — an average of 30 per day. 

NYCER’s study into divesting from Walmart and other gun retailers may conclude as early as September, when the trustees are next scheduled to meet, according to the Public Advocate’s office. 


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China’s New Silk Road Promises Prosperity Across Eurasia

SINGAPORE — For centuries the historical Silk Road connected Asia and Europe by land and by sea. The new proposal of China, while reviving the ancient concept of the Silk Road, aims to carry forward the spirit of peace, cooperation, openness and inclu…


Homicides, Shootings Soar As Baltimore Marks Bloody Milestone

BALTIMORE (AP) — Baltimore reached a grim milestone on Friday, three months after riots erupted in response to the death of Freddie Gray in police custody: With 45 homicides in July, the city has seen more bloodshed in a single month than it has in 43 years.

Police reported three deaths — two men shot Thursday and one on Friday. The men died at local hospitals.

With their deaths, this year’s homicides reached 189, far outpacing the 119 killings by July’s end in 2014. Nonfatal shootings have soared to 366, compared to 200 by the same date last year. July’s total was the worst since the city recorded 45 killings in August 1972, according to The Baltimore Sun.

The seemingly Sisyphean task of containing the city’s violence prompted Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to fire her police commissioner, Anthony Batts, on July 8.

“Too many continue to die on our streets,” Rawlings-Blake said then. “Families are tired of dealing with this pain, and so am I. Recent events have placed an intense focus on our police leadership, distracting many from what needs to be our main focus: the fight against crime.”

But the killings have not abated under Interim Commissioner Kevin Davis since then.

Baltimore is not unique in its suffering; crimes are spiking in big cities around the country.


But while the city’s police are closing cases— Davis announced arrests in three recent murders several days ago — the violence is outpacing their efforts. Davis said Tuesday the “clearance rate” is at 36.6 percent, far lower than the department’s mid-40s average.

Crime experts and residents of Baltimore’s most dangerous neighborhoods cite a confluence of factors: mistrust of the police; generalized anger and hopelessness over a lack of opportunities for young black men; and competition among dealers of illegal drugs, bolstered by the looting of prescription pills from pharmacies during the riot.

Federal drug enforcement agents said gangs targeted 32 pharmacies in the city, taking roughly 300,000 doses of opiates, as the riots caused $9 million in property damage in the city.

Perched on a friend’s stoop, Sherry Moore, 55, said she knew “mostly all” of the young men killed recently in West Baltimore, including an 18-year-old fatally shot a half-block away. Moore said many more pills are on the street since the riot, making people wilder than usual.

“The ones doing the violence, the shootings, they’re eating Percocet like candy and they’re not thinking about consequences. They have no discipline, they have no respect — they think this is a game. How many can I put down on the East side? How many can I put down on the West side?”

The tally of 42 homicides in May included Gray, who died in April after his neck was broken in police custody. The July tally likewise includes a previous death — a baby whose death in June was ruled a homicide in July.

Shawn Ellerman, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Baltimore division of the Drug Enforcement Administration, said May’s homicide spike was probably related to the stolen prescription drugs, a supply that is likely exhausted by now. But the drug trade is inherently violent, and turf wars tend to prompt retaliatory killings.

“You can’t attribute every murder to narcotics, but I would think a good number” of them are, he said. “You could say it’s retaliation from drug trafficking, it’s retaliation from gangs moving in from other territories. But there have been drug markets in Baltimore for years.”

Across West Baltimore, residents complain that drug addiction and crime are part of a cycle that begins with despair among children who lack educational and recreational opportunities, and extends when people can’t find work.

“We need jobs! We need jobs!” a man riding around on a bicycle shouted to anyone who’d listen after four people were shot, three of them fatally, on a street corner in July.

 More community engagement, progressive policing policies and opportunities for young people in poverty could help, community activist Munir Bahar said.

“People are focusing on enforcement, not preventing violence. Police enforce a code, a law. Our job as the community is to prevent the violence, and we’ve failed,” said Bahar, who leads the annual 300 Men March against violence in West Baltimore.

“We need anti-violence organizations, we need mentorship programs, we need a long-term solution. But we also need immediate relief,” Bahar added. “When we’re in something so deep, we have to stop it before you can analyze what the root is.”

Strained relationships between police and the public also play a role, according to Eugene O’Donnell, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Arrests plummeted and violence soared after six officers were indicted in Gray’s death. Residents accused police of abandoning their posts for fear of facing criminal charges for making arrests, and said emboldened criminals were settling scores with little risk of being caught.

The department denied these claims, and police cars have been evident patrolling West Baltimore’s central thoroughfares recently.

But O’Donnell said the perception of lawlessness is just as powerful than the reality.

“We have a national issue where the police feel they are the Public Enemy No. 1,” he said, making some officers stand down and criminals become more brazen.

“There’s a rhythm to the streets,” he added. “And when people get away with gun violence, it has a long-term emboldening effect. And the good people in the neighborhood think, ‘Who has the upper hand?'”

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D.C. Responds To Legislation Targeting Sanctuary Cities

WASHINGTON — House Republicans are making another attempt to meddle in the District of Columbia’s affairs, this time in a way that immigration advocates and officials say could threaten public safety by ending the city’s sanctuary policies for its estimated 25,000 undocumented immigrants.

Washington, like a number of other U.S. cities, is facing ire from Republicans for refusing to cooperate fully with Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to detain and deport undocumented immigrants. GOP lawmakers have introduced multiple pieces of legislation this month after Francisco Sanchez, an undocumented immigrant, was charged with the murder of 32-year-old San Francisco resident Kathryn Steinle, months after Sanchez had been released from jail.

There are more than 300 jurisdictions that could be affected if various anti-sanctuary city bills become law. But D.C. is in a unique situation, because Congress has the power to interfere with the decisions of local voters and elected officials.

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) specifically targets D.C. in a new bill, requiring local authorities to work with immigration enforcement or face fines of up to $10,000 for every case they do not cooperate with. Gohmert, who represents a district nearly 1,300 miles away from D.C., said in a July 23 press release that he drafted the Safer D.C. Act because “Congress must use our explicit Constitutional power to ensure that at least the District of Columbia is not a sanctuary city.”

District of Columbia officials disagree. For over 20 years, the city’s Metropolitan Police Department has had an informal policy of not asking the legal status of people with whom it comes into contact. That policy was made public in 2007 after then-Chief Charles H. Ramsey released an internal memo that stated, “MPD is not in the business of inquiring about the residency status of the people we serve and it is not in the business of enforcing civil immigration laws.”

In 2011, then-Mayor Vincent Gray took the MPD memo even further by signing an executive order that prohibited D.C. public safety officials from asking about the immigration status of anyone they arrested or questioned. The following year, the city council passed a law saying that D.C. authorities would only detain undocumented immigrants if the federal government paid for it.

Supporters of the policies argue that involving police in immigration enforcement could discourage undocumented immigrants from calling the authorities when they have an emergency. According to a survey by the National Latin@ Network and the National Domestic Violence Hotline, of the 330 or so women who called the hotline during a six-week period in 2013 and who identified as a) foreign-born and b) Hispanic or Latina, 45 percent said they were afraid to call or seek help from the police or courts.

Current Metro PD policy allows officials to comply with federal immigration authorities at their own discretion. Most instances of cooperation involve cases where there is a violent offender.

“Women know that for survivors of domestic violence to get help, police cannot be working with immigration,” said Sameera Hafiz, an activist with the We Belong Together Campaign, at a press conference Thursday. “Women know that to protect women who are being raped by their bosses, the police cannot be deporters.”

Hafiz and others at the press conference criticized politicians for, in her words, using Steinle’s death “for political gains.”

In the wake of the Steinle murder earlier this month, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) introduced the Enforce the Law for Sanctuary Cities Act, which would force local law enforcement in communities like D.C. to change their immigration policies or else lose funding. The bill passed the House in a 241-179 vote on July 24, but President Barack Obama has already said he will veto the legislation if it reaches his desk.

For bills that target D.C. directly, there is not much officials can do without statehood, city Councilmember-At-Large David Grosso (I) told The Huffington Post after the press conference.

Now that bills like Hunter’s are starting to affect other municipalities, there could be a nationwide push to address what Grosso described as the encroaching legislation.

“Somebody that is having an interaction with the police — whether it’s because of an act that they did themselves, or because of somebody else that they’re associated with, as with domestic violence cases — they have to have the trust that the police aren’t going to then turn around and have them deported out of the country,” he said.

Immigration advocates oppose laws like Gohmert’s and Hunter’s for reasons beyond safety. Mario Godoy, 18, an organizer with the Student Multiethnic Action Research Team (SMART), said that blurring the lines between policing and immigration enforcement could hurt people like him.

“I’m just a person with a dream of a better life and an education,” said Godoy, who came to D.C. four years ago from Guatemala. “If any of these laws pass, every person that is detained, their dreams and safety will be lost.”

Grosso said he just wants the District to be able to assert local control.

“In the long run, we have to stop these knuckleheads on the Hill from doing what they’re doing — tell them to butt out of our business, and leave the local municipalities alone and let us deal with our communities like we have been,” he said.

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Here’s Why Walter Palmer Keeps Saying He ‘Took’ Cecil The Lion

George Orwell once wrote that political language “is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable.” The same could be said of the language of the hunter: 

I had no idea that the lion I took was a known, local favorite, was collared and part of a study until the end of the hunt … I deeply regret that my pursuit of an activity I love and practice responsibly and legally resulted in the taking of this lion.

The words come from Walter Palmer, arguably the world’s most infamous dentist. He sent them to patients in a two-pronged letter. In it, he apologizes for his murder of Cecil the Lion — a beloved African male with a black mane and scientific significance — and for the “disruption” the illegal kill caused Palmer’s now shuttered Minnesota practice, River Bluff Dental.

Critics point out his words ring as more contrite about the latter crisis than the former. What some are calling Palmer’s non-apology for the death of Cecil uses the obtuse and passive wordplay characteristic of the shadiest mea culpas in American history, from Ulysses S. Grant’s to Donald Sterling’s. He paints Cecil’s death as an outlier, insisting throughout his email that the hunt was sold to him as “legal” and “responsible.” Not once does he question the frailty of those terms in an industry reliant on players in impoverished countries (grotesque amounts of poaching are de rigeur in Zimbabwe, as any seasoned hunter knows).

But his most egregious abuse of the English language is his smallest: that little verb, “to take.”

Used commonly among hunters, the euphemism reveals a culture of Orwellian doublespeak prevalent throughout the hunting world, meant to assuage critics and lure the conflicted curious.

One of the few critiques of the dentist’s choice of verb came from Jimmy Kimmel, who quipped, “You take aspirin. You killed the animal.” 

Kill euphemisms are tailored for the style of hunt. Trophy hunters like Palmer favor “taking,” or “collecting,” a nod to the golden era of safari hunting, when celebrated British nobles dragged entire families of zebra and gazelle back to their gloomy castles as carcasses. Today, we hear the buck hunter’s analog more often — “harvesting.” This is reserved for those who kill for food: deer, turkeys, elk, usually in their home country. Lively as it is, the debate around the rhetoric of domestic hunting sheds light on the more exotic sin of “taking” a lion. 

“Harvest,” with its undertones of a bygone era of ripe wheat fields and feasting pilgrims, has become the rhetorical weapon of choice for hunting organizations liaising with the American public. On its website, the Arizona Game and Fish Commission slips the word in with two saintlier aims: listing only the “management,” “preservation” and “harvest” of wildlife as its mission. Nowhere in the statement does the word “killing,” or even “hunting,” appear.

Nearly identical language attends an amendment passed this May by the Texas state legislature to protect the rights of hunters in the face of what one NRA director called “extreme animal rights groups” (itself a neat turning of the rhetoric of “extremism”).

At the website of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the Disneyfication of the term reaches new heights, with the option of printing one’s own “My First Harvest” certificate. Field questions include, “What kind of animal did you harvest?” complete with a drop-down menu specifying type, family and species. There’s even an option to upload a picture of the “harvested” animal, as if it weren’t shot dead, but adopted. 

The perversity of the trick hasn’t escaped ordinary rifle-toting citizens. On hunting forums, the topic inspires entire threads. Some argue that sugarcoating what they do only isolates hunters from the general public, a consequence no rights-lobbying shooter wants. Then there is the whiff of political correctness surrounding the whole thing, practically a dirty phrase in these forums. 

A debate begun in 2003 on Rimfire Central, a pro-gun website, shows how rapidly the conversation can splinter. Titled “Hunting euphemisms: caving to the PC crowd?” the thread opens with a poster — “Bill Bryan” — explaining that he’s recently returned to hunting after a spell, only to notice “magazine writers, brochures from gun makers, websites, etc. using a new kind of lingo.” The change he typifies as a clean swap: “saying ‘harvested’ instead of ‘shot’ and ‘take’ instead of ‘kill.’”

“Is this,” he wonders, “Orwellian, or what? Is it still OK to say ‘kill’ and ‘shoot’?”

Even the first few responses vary wildly. One commenter differentiates based on type and purpose, writing that “one KILLS Rats, Mice, and other vermin. However one HARVEST [sic] game animals that he intends to consume for food.” Immediately below, a writer dismisses all synonyms for killing as “PC BS.” The debate briefly derails when a poster accuses Bryan of actually being a secret “‘hug-a-tree’ sort of guy or Peta lover … just trying to start some BS here!!”

Stripped to its core, the debate over the rightness of the word “kill” is really about killing itself: is hunting wrong or right? Here is where semantics confuse an already confusing issue. The statistics on hunting as conservation — a link that’s led to words like “culling” and “harvesting” in place of “killing” — remain murky. A slice of the data in favor of big-game hunting of the sort Palmer does relies on the self-reporting of hunters, who may well claim to prefer shooting elderly male animals in unscenic venues (the best hunting scenario, from an ecological perspective) to slant research in their favor. 

They would be wise to do so. In the age of the Internet, PR nightmares lead to actual action, from California’s ban on hunting with hounds — a bit of legislative damage control after a photograph leaked of the state’s Fish & Game Commission president grinning next to a dead cougar he shot — to the wave of international airline bans on dead animal cargo, instated after a picture of a reality TV huntress lying next to a bull giraffe she felled went viral. 

Before the age of the shareable image, those who could sway the public understood the power of language. In his 1996 book, In The Company of Animals: A Study of Human-Animal Relationships, ethicist James Serpell tracked various euphemisms for killing and maiming animals. Many revolve around vivisection, or surgery done on live animals, often for research purposes. 

Vivisectors “do not kill their animal subjects,” Serpell writes. “They ‘dispatch,’ ‘terminate,’ or ‘sacrifice’ them,” just as hunters “are only ‘harvesting,’ ‘bagging,’ or ‘taking’ the animals they shoot to death.”  

As in hunting, leaders in the fur and meat industries are fluent in this alternate language. Furriers routinely describe animals as succumbing to euthanasia — a misuse of a word that literally means a mercy killing, done to alleviate the suffering of the killed (though animals in fur farms may well be living miserable enough lives to justify the usage). Serpell cites an edition of the British Meat Trades Journal published near his time of writing, advising meat purveyors to divorce their product from “the act of slaughter,” by swapping out the words “butcher” and “slaughterhouse” with what Serpell calls “American euphemisms”: “meat plant,” “meat factory.”

Even before the specter of government bans, shooters had their lingo. Centuries ago, British fox hunters developed synonyms for killing, some more chilling than the word itself: “bowled over,” “rolled over,” “brought to book,” “punished,” “dealt with,” “accounted for.” In a 2012 essay against the euphemistic creep in American hunting circles, Chris Eberhart, a bowhunter and outdoor writer in Michigan, described the surreality he experienced shooting in Germany:

German hunters never use the word blood. The euphemism for blood is the word sweat. And no animal is ever wounded by a German hunter.  Instead, wounded game is described as sick. A non hunter could listen to two German hunters talk about wounding an animal and tracking and have absolutely no idea what they were talking about.

In contrast with the euphemisms of today — intended to endear the public to the cause — European code words came about expressly to exclude. Hunting was the sport of the elite, and elitism thrives on inside knowledge. As Eberhart points out, to regular folk in an old country, hunters speak an incomprehensible language.

American coding traces to a philosophical shift. The great early 20th-century environmentalist Aldo Leopold pioneered the idea of game as a kind of crop. The Rimfire Central debate ends on this note as well. Citing Leopold’s 1933 book Game Management, the thread’s final commenter suggests that “effective communication means knowing your audience.” Leopold, the commenter says, communicated effectively:

We have learned that game, to be successfully conserved, must be positively produced rather than negatively protected. We have learned that game is a crop, which Nature will grow and grow abundantly, provided only that we furnish the seed and a suitable environment.

This language is then echoed by trophy hunters, who defend their actions as ultimately beneficial to the ecosystem. (Though Leopold, who changed his views on predator eradication by the end of his life, would surely disagree with them.) A favorite example is of the white rhino, a near-extinct species brought back from the brink, partly due to private South African landowners eager to entice wealthy Westerners to pay to shoot.

The case is provocative — some estimates place the population’s rise from 100 to 11,000 from 1960 to 2007 — even while limited trophy hunting continued. But crediting hunting for the rise misrepresents the reality of the conservation effort, a multi-pronged approach that has involved fertilization intervention by researchers, as well as sweeping limitations on poaching and, yes, hunting — both activities of which were blamed for wiping the species’ numbers down so low in the first place.  

In the case of Walter Palmer, language is critical. In a moment of crisis, perhaps he’s using the words that make him feel upstanding. What he calls “taking,” however, we happen to know means something explicit. We know he and at least three other men lured the lion out of protected land by strapping a dead animal to a vehicle as bait. Palmer collected on his over $50,000 fee and shot the tricked animal with a bow, piercing Cecil’s flesh but not killing him. The group then stalked the wounded lion for 40 hours until Palmer had a chance to shoot and kill his trophy with a rifle. One, some or all of the men then beheaded and skinned Cecil, trying before they left the carcass to rot to extract the tagged collar that proved to be their downfall.

Unfortunately for Palmer, there’s another word that describes this operation: “poaching.” 

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White Americans Still Think The Police Are Mostly Fair

The deep racial divide over the way police treat black Americans hasn’t narrowed since the beginning of the year, a new survey finds.

In a HuffPost/YouGov poll taken in the wake of Sandra Bland’s death in police custody and the police shooting of Samuel Dubose, white Americans say by a 16-point margin — 47 percent to 31 percent — that police in most cities treat black Americans fairly. This number is virtually unchanged since February. Three-quarters of black Americans disagree.

Opinions of the police remain relatively high, with 65 percent of Americans rating their local police force favorably, and people of all races more likely than not to express positive views of their local cops.

Whites are considerably more unreserved about their support. Fifty-two percent of them, compared to just 32 percent of blacks, say their experiences with law enforcement have been mostly good ones, rather than mixed or mostly bad. But just a small percentage of either group — just 21 percent of whites, and 22 percent of blacks — say they’re at all afraid of the police.

Most black parents, though, are afraid for their children. Seventy-four percent say they’ve warned their kids they need to be careful when dealing with the police. Just 32 percent of white parents have felt the need to issue a similar warning.

Age is also a factor in views of the police. Adults under the age of 45 are significantly less likely than older Americans to say they’ve had mostly good experiences with law enforcement, and are more likely to be personally afraid of the police.

The HuffPost/YouGov poll consisted of 1,000 completed interviews conducted July 23-27 among U.S. adults, using a sample selected from YouGov’s opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population.

The Huffington Post has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov’s nationally representative opinion polling. Data from all HuffPost/YouGov polls can be found here. More details on the polls’ methodology are available here.

Most surveys report a margin of error that represents some, but not all, potential survey errors. YouGov’s reports include a model-based margin of error, which rests on a specific set of statistical assumptions about the selected sample, rather than the standard methodology for random probability sampling. If these assumptions are wrong, the model-based margin of error may also be inaccurate. Click here for a more detailed explanation of the model-based margin of error.


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