Saturday, January 08, 2011

Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords Shot in the Head

Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (b. 6-8-70) was shot in the head today by a young, mentally unstable mass-murderer while she was hosting a political meeting at a Tucson Safeway. The bullet entered one side of her head and exited the other side. Doctors are optimistic that she will have some recovery because she is responding to commands following surgery; still, such an injury will not be without consequences, even if the Congresswoman survives.

Rep. Giffords was married in 2007 to the NASA Space Shuttle astronaut, Cmdr. Mark Kelly. A former Fulbright Scholar who earned a Master's Degree from Cornell in Urban Planning, Rep. Giffords is a moderate "Blue Dog" Democrat.

Rep. Gifford's Congressional district borders on Mexico. The L.A. Times (1-8-11) reports that Rep. Giffords favors comprehensive immigration reform. She emphasizes border security but has opposed hard-line anti-illegal-immigrant measures.

Rep. Giffords advocates the development of solar power. According to Wikipedia, Giffords voted for "the repeal of $14 billion of subsidies to big oil companies, in favor of renewable energy subsidies and the founding of the Strategic Renewable Energy Reserve."

Gifford's Wikipedia notes:

In September 2007 she published a report titled: The Community Solar Energy Initiative, Solar Energy in Southern Arizona, observing that Arizona has enough sunshine to power the entire United States. It reviews current energy usage and discusses how to increase the production of solar electricity.[32] On 1 August 2008 she wrote to congressional leaders regarding tax credits that were set to expire, saying that failure to extend the scheme would be extremely harmful to the renewable energy industry "just as it is beginning to take off."[33]

The shooter killed six people. The dead included a 9-year-old girl; a federal judge, John M. Roll; and Giffords's Director of Community Outreach, Gabe Zimmerman. The three remaining murdered people were elderly women. [See the Pima County Sheriff's press release (1-8-11).] Twelve others have been wounded.

Judge Roll is not believed to have been a target, although he had received death threats. A friend says the Judge had stopped by the Safeway after morning Mass to pick up some groceries. He may not even have known about the political event until he got to the store.

The alleged gunman, who has been identified as Jared Loughner, 22, has been captured. During a press conference, Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik revealed that the authorities are looking for a second person, a white man in his 50s who may have played a role in the deadly shooting spree.

During the press conference, Sheriff Dupnik blamed the violence on the fact that mentally-ill people are inspired by vitriolic politics and divisive news personalities who are constantly tearing down the government. He says that we have free speech but that free speech is not without consequences.

Sheriff Dupnik seems to have been alluding to the Tea Party Movement and to political commentators like Fox News's ignorant, arrogant demagogue Glenn Beck. I never watch Fox News now that they have Glenn Beck and defame climate science. Fox News is mostly propaganda, not news.

The U.K. Guardian (1-9-11) reports:

Giffords had been named as a political campaign target for conservatives in last November's mid-term elections by former Alaskan governor Sarah Palin because of her strong support for Obama's health reforms. Palin had published a "target map" on her website using images of gun sights to identify 20 House Democrats, including Giffords, for backing the new healthcare law.

While the motive for the shooting was not immediately clear, Giffords is one of 10 Democrat members of Congress who were the subject of harassment over their support for the healthcare overhaul. Giffords's Tucson constituency office was vandalised last March after she voted in favour of Obama's controversial health bill, which has been bitterly opposed by the American right.

In an interview after the vandalism, Giffords referred to the animosity against her. "We're on Sarah Palin's targeted list," she said, "but the thing is, the way that she has it depicted has the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district. When people do that, they have to realise that there are consequences to that action."

The more I see of Palin, the less I like. It seems to me that she is just a tool of the fossil-fuel interests who fund the Tea Party Movement. Sara Palin claims she is pro-life, but she Puts a gun sight over a political district and symbolically "targets" her fellow citizens.

Palin's actions are really sickening and irresponsible; still, there is no evidence to suggest that the shooter was influenced Palin's website. He seems to have had admired both Hitler's Mein Kampf and Marx's Communist Manifesto. Shooter Jared Loughner had a criminal record and a mental illness; yet he was apparently allowed to buy a semi-automatic pistol.

I think that it should be difficult to own a gun, especially an automatic weapon. Both Sara Palin and Gabrielle Giffords have defended gun ownership. Rep. Giffords opposed the Washington D.C. gun ban. "Giffords owns a Glock handgun and regards gun ownership as a constitutional right and an 'Arizona tradition,' said spokesman C.J. Karamargin."

After her Tucson office was vandalized, Giffords reportedly boasted that she owned a Glock and knew how to use it pretty well, but her Glock did not save her or the other victims at the Tucson Safeway. Perhaps the shooter was inspired by Gifford's irresponsible boast, not Sara Palin's irresponsible website, because Jared Loughner shot Rep. Giffords with a Glock. It would have been better if Rep. Giffords had hired professional security for her appearances instead of announcing that she knew how to use a Glock "pretty well."

President Obama has dispatched FBI chief Robert Mueller to Arizona to handle the case personally. Here is a news search for Gabrielle Giffords and a Washington Post (1-8-11) account of the murder.

CNN (1-8-11) reports:

Six people were killed and 12 others wounded -- including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords -- in a shooting outside a Tucson, Arizona, grocery store where the congresswoman was holding a constituent meeting, police said.

The suspect in the shooting was in custody, according to U.S. Capitol Police, who did not identify the alleged gunman.

Darci Slaten, a spokeswoman for University Medical Center in Tucson, said Giffords, 40, was undergoing surgery Saturday afternoon for a gunshot wound to the head.

Local law enforcement officials have not provided a public accounting of the injuries, but President Obama called the shooting an "unspeakable tragedy," and said "some have passed away," according to a statement from the White House. He said Giffords was "gravely wounded."

A federal judge from Arizona was among the victims, though the judge's condition was unknown, a law enforcement source told CNN.

The shooting happened shortly after 10 a.m. MST at a Safeway grocery store, Pima County Sheriff's Department spokesman Jason Ogan said.

Giffords, 40, was holding a constituent meeting at the store when the shooting occurred, according to a schedule posted on her website.

An FBI spokesman said the agency was sending agents to the scene, and two senior Obama administration officials said the White House is monitoring the situation.

They said they believed that a congressional staffer may have been killed.

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