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November 30, 2009
Four Police Officers Killed in Ambush Near Tacoma

LAKEWOOD, Wash. — Four uniformed police officers were shot to death Sunday morning as they sat in a coffee shop preparing to begin patrol, prompting a widespread search for the gunman, who remained at large.

“Two of them were just flat executed, sitting writing reports,” Ed Troyer, a spokesman for the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office, said of the officers, who worked for the Police Department in Lakewood, just south of Tacoma. “One of them stood up and tried to go for the suspect and got shot. Then the fourth one fought his way out to the parking lot and fired off some rounds.”

The suspect fled on foot, but Mr. Troyer said investigators had evidence that he might have been injured by the fourth officer.

“We hope that he hit him,” Mr. Troyer said of the officer, who fired at the suspect before dying from gunshot wounds. “If he’s hit, that means he’s injured somewhere with a gunshot wound. He’s going to have to get that taken care of sometime, someplace,” he said.

Late Sunday, the authorities said they were seeking a “person of interest” in the shootings whom they identified as Maurice Clemmons, 37. They described him as having an “extensive violent criminal history” in Arkansas and said he had recently been arrested in Pierce County and charged with assaulting a police officer and raping a child.

Nine years ago in Arkansas, The Seattle Times reported, Mr. Clemmons was released from prison after Gov. Mike Huckabee commuted his lengthy prison sentence, over the protests of prosecutors.

After the coffee shop shootings, the gunman apparently fled into the strip-mall sprawl here, officials said. During the day, National Guard sharpshooters positioned themselves outside a nearby storage facility, helicopters hovered overhead and groups of bystanders were warned that they could be in the line of fire. Mr. Troyer said later that some of the search had been in response to what he called a hoax — a man called the police and falsely said he was the gunman.

The shooting took place near two major military bases, McChord Air Force Base and Fort Lewis, prompting initial concerns of terrorism, but officials later said they believed that the police officers were the intended targets.

Mr. Troyer said a caller reported the shooting at 8:15 a.m. Witnesses told the police that the gunman had approached the counter and was asked for an order, the authorities said. The man then opened his jacket to reveal a weapon. The employee at the counter fled and heard gunshots soon after.

The officers who were killed were identified as Sgt. Mark Renninger, 39; Ronald Owens, 37; Tina Griswold, 40; and Greg Richards, 42. They worked on a patrol team for the Police Department of Lakewood, a suburb of 58,000 people. The force was formed in 2004 after the city took over law enforcement from the Sheriff’s Office. It has about 100 officers.

Mr. Troyer said the shooting did not appear to be connected to the killing of a Seattle police officer, Timothy Brenton, who was shot while sitting in a patrol car on Halloween night. Several days later, the police arrested a suspect in that shooting, Christopher Monfort. The Seattle police have said Mr. Monfort, of suburban Tukwila, also played a role in the firebombing of four Seattle police vehicles in October.

The Lakewood officers were shot at a Forza Coffee Company cafe, part of a chain of two dozen shops in Washington. The attack took place in unincorporated Pierce County, just a few hundred yards from the Lakewood city limits, in a small shopping center with a nail salon, a teriyaki restaurant and a cigar shop.

Mr. Troyer said he did not think robbery was a motive. Employees and customers were left unharmed, and no money was taken.

The coffee shop and other nearby places are popular among law enforcement officers because the area is at the intersection of the cities of Tacoma and Lakewood.

“It’s a safe spot, it’s in a strip mall,” Mr. Troyer said. “It’s a place where they can plug in their computers, do reports, work and share intelligence with other police officers and agencies.”

Several residents of the nearby Willows apartment complex said the area had been hit recently by apartment and car burglaries, and at least two people said they had seen more unfamiliar faces of late.

“You hear shots from time to time,” said Lilah Casteel, who said she had lived in the complex for three years.

After the shootings, law enforcement officers from at least four departments set up roadblocks and searched streets, buildings and parking lots in a hunt for the gunman. There were initial conflicting reports about whether one or two men were involved.

Brad Carpenter of Forza Coffee told The Associated Press that his staff members were answering questions from investigators. “I’m a retired police officer, so this really hits close to home for me,” he said. The employees, Mr. Troyer said, “were stunned and shocked, traumatized.”

A vigil for the officers was scheduled to be held Sunday evening at a nondenominational church in Tacoma.

Joseph Berger contributed reporting from New York and Duff Wilson from Lakewood.

Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company

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The Lakewood Police Independent Guild is setting up a benevolent fund for the families of the four officers killed Sunday morning.

Guild president Brian Wurts said in a statement on the guild's web page that the account has been established through the union.

If you would like to contribute, here is the address:

LPIG Benevolent Fund, PO Box 99579, Lakewood, WA 98499

Make out the checks to the "LPIG Benevolent Fund".

(no subject)
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Poll #1281754 Officially Weird #1

Have you ever: (Please mark all that apply below)

had an out of body experience?
had a near death experience?
died? (physically)
died? (mentally or emotionally)
committed suicide?
gone through a "ReBirth" with a counselor? (a physical process involving cocooning the person being ReBirthed)
been "reborn" in some other manner? (spiritual, emotional, or otherwise)
had some other experience you feel is related to any of the above in some manner?

If you would care to elaborate upon any of your answers to the above experiences, please leave comments either here, or send them to minusfouralarmATgmailDOTcom, should you prefer it. Anonymity shall be retained for those who wish it. Thank you.

(no subject)
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Ostendet terris hunc tantum fata.

excerpted from Rod Davis's "American Vodou: Journey Into a Hidden World"
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That was about it until a stormy romance fifteen years later with a young woman from a traditional Catholic family from the well-heeled section of New Orleans around Tulane called Uptown.

A lifelong rebel, Pam was drawn to voudou for the same reason a lot of people in the Big Easy were, because it was outside the mainstream and likely to stay that way. Voudou was to the young, artistic bohemia of New Orleans as common a cultural crossroads as a bookshelf full of Anne Rice's vampires or John Kennedy Toole's neurotics. Many, like Pam, had picked up voudou charms at back-street shops, or smiled knowingly at mention of the word in conversation, possibly had experienced readings or been to Marie Laveau's grave; but few actually knew anything about the religion itself. Or probably cared. What was of interest to the disaffected of the city was neither the spirituality nor the theology, but the marginality. Voudou was not white and it was not of the ruling class, and if you wanted to try to distance yourself from all that suffocation and decay and slow, steady corruption, you would attach to the new perspective of your black-clad, white-lipsticked, alienated freedom anything that could identify you as not being of Them. And so without knowing it, the white exiles of New Orleans, the ones who try to make the bridge between the white and black souls of the city, and all too often fall off that bridge, partook of the political content of the African religion. They validated that content by seeking its alliance, slight and oblique thought it was.

--Rod Davis, "American Voudou: Journey Into a Hidden World"

Seeker of Space?
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"Let it out. Blow it out. Spit it out."
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Everything perfect is broken.
Everything broken is perfect.

There is no better time than now.

Yesterday doesn't matter anymore.
Tomorrow never was.

This way lies madness.
This way lies reason.

Will you take the red pill, or the blue pill?

I made my choice.

From "A Lover's Discourse: Fragments", by Roland Barthes
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"Everything follows from this principle: that the lover is not to be reduced to a simple symptomal subject, but rather that we hear in his voice what is "unreal," i.e., intractable. Whence the choice of a "dramatic" method which renounces examples and rests on the single action of a primary language (no metalanguage). The description of the lover's discourse has been replaced by its simulation, and to that discourse has been restored its fundamental person, the I, in order to stage an utterance, not an analysis. What is proposed, then, is a portrait--but not a psychological portrait; instead, a structural one which offers the reader a discursive site: the site of someone speaking within himself, amorously, confronting the other (the loved object), who does not speak."

[. . .]

So it is a lover who speaks and who says:

"I am engulfed, I succumb . . ."

  to be engulfed
 Outburst of annihilation which affects the amorous subject in despair or fulfillment.

1.   Either woe or well-being, sometimes I have a craving to be engulfed (1 Werther). This morning (in the country), the weather is mild, overcast. I am suffering (from some incident). The notion of suicide occurs to me, pure of any resentment (not blackmailing anyone); an insipid notion; it alters nothing ("breaks" nothing), matches the color (the silence, the desolation) of this morning.

Another day, in the rain, we're waiting for the boat at the lake; from happiness, this time, the same outburst of annihilation sweeps through me. This is how it happens sometimes, misery or joy engulfs me, without any particular tumult ensuing, nor any pathos: I am dissolved, not dismembered; I fall, I flow, I melt. Such thoughts--grazed, touched, tests (the way you test the water with your foot)--can recur. Nothing solemn about them. This is exactly what gentleness is.

2.   The crisis of engulfment can come from a wound, but also from a fusion: we die together from loving each other: an open death, by dilution into the ether, a closed death of the shared grave.  (2 Tristan, 3 Baudelaire)
Engulfment is a moment of hypnosis. A suggestion functions, which commands me to swoon without killing myself. Whence, perhaps, the gentleness of the abyss: I have no responsibility here, the act (of dying) is not up to me: I entrust myself, I transmit myself (to whom to God, to Nature, to everything, except to the other).  (4 Ruysbroeck)

3.   Therefore, on those occasions when I am engulfed, it is because there is no longer any place for me anywhere, not even in death. The image of the other--to which I was glued, on which I lived--no longer exists; sometimes this is a (futile) catastrophe which seems to remove the image forever, sometimes it is an excessive happiness which enables me to unite with the image; in any case, severed or united, dissolved or discrete, I am nowhere gathered together; opposite, neither your nor me, nor death, nor anything else to talk to.
(Strangely, it is in the extreme action of the amorous Image-repertoire--annihilation as a consequence of driving out the image or f being identified with it--that there occurs a fall of this Image-repertoire: for the brief interval of a vacillation, I lose my structure as a lover: this is a factitious mourning, without work to do: something like a non-site.)

4.   In love with death? An exaggeration to say, with Keats, half in love with easeful death: death liberated from dying.  Then I have this fantasy: a gentle hemorrhage which flows from no specific point in my body, an almost immediate consumption, calculated so that I might have the time to abate my suffering without yet having died. Fleetingly I establish myself within a false conception of death (false the way a key is "falsified" by warping): I conceive of death beside me: I conceive of it according to an unthought logic, I drift outside of the fatal couple which links life and death by opposing them to each other.

5.   Is the abyss no more than an expedient annihilation? It would not be difficult for me to read the abyss, not as a repose, but as an emotion. I mask my mourning by an evasion; I dilute myself, I swoon in order to escape that density, that clogging which makes me into a responsible subject: I come out: it is ecstasy.  (5 Sartre)

Rue du Cherche-Midi, after a difficult evening, X was explaining very carefully, his voice exact, his sentences well-formed, far from anything inexpressible, that sometimes he longed to swoon; he regretted never being able to disappear at will.
His words were saying that he meant then to succumb to his weakness, not to resist the wounds the world inflicted upon him; but at the same time he was substituting for this failing strength, another affirmation: I assume toward and against everything a denial of courage, hence a denial of morality: that is what X's voice was saying.

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1.    Werther:  "In such thoughts I am engulfed, I succumb, under the power of these magnificent visions . . . I shall see her . . . Everything, yes, everything, as though engulfed by an abyss, vanishes into this prospect."

2.   Tristan:  "In the blessed abyss of the infinite ether, in your sublime soul, boundless immensity, I sink and am engulfed, unconscious, O bliss!"  (Isolde's death).

3.   Baudelaire:  "Some pink and blue evening, we shall exchange a single impulse, a kind of long sob, heavy with farewells"  ("La Mort des amants").

4.   Ruysbroeck:  ". . . The repose of the abyss."

5.   Sartre: On swooning and anger as evasions, The Emotions.

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From Roland Barthes "A Lover's Discourse:  Fragments", translated by Richard Howard.

The Double-Edged Sword of Pardoning
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The following is a response (albeit partially uninformed) to an article from the New York Times Online: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/18/world/middleeast/18saudi.html?ex=1355634000&en=9d77839cd6e54bf1&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss . The aforementioned hyperlink is one telling part of the story of a moslem King pardoning a woman from being punished for being raped. I'll also preserve it in posterity under the following cut...
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You've read through the entire article by this point, yes?  Good.  What kind of person are you that you pardon someone, as ruler of a country, without setting a precedent?  I understand that no, you may not want another War of Religion.  No, you may not want to lose power by creating an entirely new doctrine within your own kingdom.  No, you may not feel comfortable stepping outside of your (and I will admit my propaganda here, I'm a mostly self-identified woman with a strong leaning towards equal rights for men and women) narrow world view based on a religion most of you have bastardized anyways.

"Virgin Fall" from Daniel Amos' album "Kalhoun"
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God and Goddess on a silver screen
Archetype lovers in a perfect dream
We love' em, we leave' em forever clean
Then a dirty little secret spoils everything

Let the virgin fall, let the virgin fall
Let the virgin fall, let the virgin fall

Saint at the alter on a T.V. set
He's walkin' on water and he don't get wet
The idolaters say that he's the holiest yet
He calls his mistress "Venus"
Says she's teacher's perfect pet, gotta let...

Let the virgin fall, let the virgin fall
Let the virgin fall, let the virgin fall

He was the leader of the people in the land of the free
A myth we kept deep frozen in a tragedy
But now we know he never was much of a deity
And believing in him is harder than it used to be

She tried hard to hold on, be his sweet expectation
Then she became herself, it killed the whole relation

Let the virgin fall, let the virgin fall
Let the virgin fall, let the virgin fall

Father's dark desires and mother's drastic lies
The kids don't really talk to them or look them in the eyes
Behind the graven images in the back of their disguise
They are the fallen architects of a failing enterprise

Let the virgin fall, let the virgin fall
Let the virgin fall, let the virgin fall

From Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei
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I feel like I'm the one being made fun of here.  >.>