Thursday, June 18, 2009

Venerable Matt Talbot

Venerable Matt Talbot, traditional holy card.

In the Catholic calendar, today is the Feast Day of Matt Talbot. He has not been fully canonized yet, but is currently in the first stage, which gives him the title of "Venerable"; he needs to progress through the second stage (and the title of "Blessed") before he is a saint.

My late, great Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor, Kathy Anthony, supervised the detox unit at the old Talbot Hall in Columbus, Ohio, which is now part of the Ohio State University Medical Center, but was at that time part of the St Anthony Hospital complex on the east side. At Talbot Hall, she made me stand up at an actual podium and give my AA "testimony" to about 300 people. It was the first time I had ever done it, and I was scared shitless. I remember looking at the painting of Matt Talbot hanging in the entrance hall, and asking him for a boost. I can even recall reaching out and touching the picture, whispering, "If you're listening, how about an infusion of grace?"

He got me through it, and I owe him. In fact, after the first few sentences, I relaxed completely and it was not unlike a regular conversation... or like blogging. :)

After he is properly canonized, Matt Talbot will likely be designated patron saint of alcoholics.


Nezua freaked me right out, offering a story that the mainstream media has all but ignored.

I am as angry about the national-media blackout, as I am about the story itself, which is horrifying enough.

Nezua writes:
I’M VERY SORRY TO SAY that Brisenia Flores and her father Raul are dead. That’s Brisenia on the left. The Flores familia was sleeping when anti-immigrant crusaders busted down their door and invaded their home, ICE-style, before shooting the father and daughter to death.
And did you hear about little Brisenia?

Me neither, and I am a major newshound.

According to The Arizona Daily Star:
Three people, including the leader of a border watch group and an officer within that group, were arrested in connection with a May 30 home invasion that left a father and his daughter dead and the mother wounded, authorities said.

One of those arrested, Shawna Forde, is the leader of Minutemen American Defense, a group out of Washington state that conducts operations along the U.S.-Mexican border in Arizona. The group is not related to either the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps founded by Chris Simcox, or the Minuteman Project founded by Jim Gilchrist.
Authorities also arrested Jason Eugene Bush, 34, who serves as operations director for the Washington group, and Albert Robert Gaxiola, 42, in connection with the shooting deaths of Raul Flores, 29, and his 9-year-old daughter, Brisenia Flores, said Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik.

The three are charged with two counts of first-degree murder, one count of first degree burglary, and one count of aggravated assault.

Several men and a woman claiming to be police officers forced their way into the home in the middle of the night May 30 and killed the pair. The girl's mother was wounded, and investigators believe she returned fire, injuring Bush, Dupnik said.

Dupnik painted a grim picture of the tragedy during a press conference Friday at the Sheriff's Department headquarters.

Raul Flores was a suspected drug dealer, and the three suspects targeted the house with the intention of stealing money and drugs, he said.

Bush was the suspected shooter, Dupnik said.

They did not plan to leave any survivors, he said. "The plan was to kill everyone. To kill a 9-year-old because she might be a potential witness is one of the most despicable acts I've heard of."
The next time you see Lou Dobbs or one of those talking-head-hacks babbling about the Minutemen "protecting" our borders, just remember this story, okay?

Sure they are.


Aunt B reports on the exploits of Harass II the wonder dog, who actually had the power to convict people.

From The Agitator:
Incredible story from Orlando, where police and prosecutors were apparently convicting people of violent crimes based almost exclusively on the “testimony” of a police dog whose handler claimed has extraordinary powers.
Last weekend, we looked at the case of Bill Dillon, the Brevard County resident imprisoned for 27 years before DNA tests set him free…

At least two other men suffered the same fate — and another shared link: a dog.

Not just any dog. A wonder dog helped convict all three men: a German shepherd named Harass II, who wowed juries with his amazing ability to place suspects at the scenes of crimes.

Harass could supposedly do things no other dog could: tracking scents months later and even across water, according to his handler, John Preston.
Judges and juries apparently bought this crap for years. It finally came to an end when Judge Gilbert Goshorn ordered the dog to perform a basic tracking test after Preston claimed the dog had alerted to a suspect’s scent at a crime scene six months after the murder. The dog failed.

So far, three people have been cleared after collectively spending more than 50 years in prison, all of whom were convicted primarily due to the dog’s alerts, despite other evidence exculpating them. Florida criminal justice activists say there may be as 60 more people wrongly convicted thanks to Preston and his dog.

Yet Florida officials don’t seem to care, and have no plans to proactively look for other people who may have been wrongly imprisoned.

In a statement, [Florida State's Attorney] Wolfinger’s office said it didn’t have a list of the cases in which Preston testified — nor even the records that would allow the office to compile such a list.

Essentially, Wolfinger contends it’s up to defendants to raise questions about these decades-old cases.
What can you say to a story like this?

I am as speechless as Aunt B.


D. said...

Another facet of the Flores case.

*spits metaphorically on the ground*

DaisyDeadhead said...

OMG, that is just horrific!

I could not listen to the whole thing. :(

CrackerLilo said...

It is incidents like the Flores family's murder that prompt my atheist wife to say she wishes she could bring herself to believe in hell, just so she can feel like there's sufficient justice coming to the people who perpetrate such horrible acts. I did *not* know about that poor little girl!

Thank you for sharing the history of Venerable Matt Talbot. As I have never been Catholic, there's a lot I don't know, so thank you for broadening my education just a tiny bit. I'm glad you were able to find that inspiration when you needed it.

As for Harass II, well, it's a shame that a dog's life has to be misused this way. I am, unfortunately, not at all surprised that this happened in Central Florida.

Rachel said...

All three of the points were so informative. The Flores story breaks my heart. And I agree with what you said about Lou Dobbs 100%.

John Powers said...

We get the daily paper at home. I like the paper with coffee to start the day. But I'm so troubled by what they leave out; for example NYT articles with the relevant context to the article edited out. I didn't see the Minuteman murder article in the paper. It was on TPM and Firedoglake. My banal point is that I depend on the Internet to understand the news. I like the news stories you point to. Using this medium to talk about the news is about the only weay we have of being informed.

Blue Heron said...

Thank you for sharing the Matt Talbot story and being candid about your own recovery. It's good to give thanks to those who help us along the way.

"Paradise waits on the crest of a wave, her angels in flame"

News update said...

Minuteman Vigilante Shawna Forde Convicted for Brisenia Flores’ Murder said...

Quite useful material, thanks so much for the post.