Friday Reads

4681461189_7fc9f4772e_oGood Morning!

I’ve been sick the last few days and also busy trying to get the car fixed so I can safely drive it around town again.  I’m going to have to make this shorter than usual because for the last couple nights I’ve spent a lot of time in the bathroom and then basically collapsing on the bed.  So, here are a few in depth articles you may want to read.

The Atlantic profiles what it says is the last days the powerful and dread pirate Antonin Scalia.

Since Scalia’s appointment in 1986, he has succeeded brilliantly in seizing the spotlight, establishing himself as a conservative hero. He told one questioner to “get over it!” when asked about Bush v. Gore, and responded to pro-choice protesters with an indecent Sicilian hand gesture. Confronted politely by a gay student, he snapped, “If we cannot have moral feelings against homosexuality, can we have it against murder?”

But Scalia may have outdone himself in his 2013 dissent in the case of United States v. Windsor. For years, he has been unrelenting in opposing constitutional protections for gays and lesbians. In his 2003 dissent in Lawrence v. Texas, Scalia warned darkly that the Court majority “has largely signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda” even though “many Americans do not want persons who openly engage in homosexual conduct as partners in their business, as scoutmasters for their children, as teachers in their children’s schools, or as boarders in their homes.”

In Windsor, the Court’s majority struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, which forbade federal recognition of same-sex marriages that were legal under state law. In an opinion by Justice Anthony Kennedy, the majority concluded that its “purpose and effect” were “to disparage and to injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity.”

The opinion was the triumph of the “homosexual agenda” Scalia had denounced.

Scalia has been one of the worst justices ever.  He’s been responsible for some authentic judicial overreach to push his theocratic agenda. The only thing that will 18316asave us from the likes of him and more is it seems we’ll be getting Democratic Presidents for awhile.  I doubt he’ll outlast another President Clinton.

An interesting article at The Republic suggests that Officer Darren Wilson will not be convicted since laws are written that basically give cops a license to kill.

In any clash of witness testimony, police officers begin at huge advantage. Although the courts insist that juries give policemen no extra credence because of their badges as an “essential demand of fairness,” that’s not how jurors actually think or behave. Large percentages of potential jurors readily admit to giving police testimony extra weight, and many more likely act on this implicit bias. And in this case, the favoring of police testimony is compounded by another more pernicious bias: racial prejudice. Extensiveresearch shows that Americans are far more likely to believe that African Americansand especially young black menhave committed crimes and display violent behavior. It therefore won’t take very much to convince a jury that Officer Wilson was acting out of self-defense.

But these cultural biases are only part of the story of why a conviction will be near-impossible. The central reason is a recent trend in many states’ criminal laws. Throughout history, claims of self-defense and compelling police activity have served as justifications for the use of deadly force. Most people intuitively understand that self-preservation is a basic right and that police must sometimes use violence to protect society and apprehend criminals. But generally, we expect situations of justified violence and legal killing to be the rare exception, and most people would probably imagine that policemen and citizens raising claims of justifiable homicide must meet a substantive burden of proof. But today, in states like Missouri, these justifications barely require any evidence at all.

imagesMother Jones has a fairly substantive list of what happens to officers who shoot black men.

It remains to be seen whether Wilson will face criminal charges, but a limited review of similar killings by police suggests that the officers more often than not walk away without an indictment, and are very rarely convicted. Delores Jones-Brown, a law professor and director of the Center on Race, Crime, and Justice at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, looked at 21 publicized cases from 1994 through 2009 in which a police officer killed an unarmed black person. Of those, only seven cases resulted in an indictment—for criminally negligent homicide, obstruction of justice, conspiracy, or violation of civil rights—and only three officers were found guilty.

Let’s take a closer look at five specific cases in which an unarmed black man was killed by officers while allegedly fleeing or resisting in some fashion.

I think you’ll remember most of these cases and the outcomes are disheartening.

What companies are getting rich providing little towns and cities with weapons of war that are usually confined to military use.  Here’s a quick list at Alternet.

The companies getting mileage out of the unrest in Ferguson are vast. The LRAD Corporation manufactures the long-range acoustic devices that have emitted piercing noises at protesters in Missouri. These sound devices can cause headaches and other types of pain. The police in Ferguson are also using the Bearcat armored truck manufactured by Lenco. That vehicle, costing $360,000, was paid for with Department of Homeland Security grant money, according to the New York Times. Since 2003, over $9 million in grants from Homeland Security have flowed to police in St. Louis, according to the Times. Overall, since the September 11 terror attacks, $34 billion in such grants have been given to law enforcement agencies across the country, showing it is the federal government fueling police militarization.

The Ferguson police department has received two armored Humvees, a generator and a trailer from the U.S. military, according to the Associated Press. Police departments around the nation have received the military’s surplus equipment, which has brought weapons used in Afghanistan and Iraq to local towns and cities. Congress first passed a law authorizing the funneling of surplus military equipment to domestic law enforcement in 1990. It’s now known as the 1033 program, referring to the section of the program in the Pentagon budget.

The Justice Department has also gotten in on the action. Justice Department grants have paid for tear gas and rubber bullets, though it’s not clear if police in Ferguson used those grants to buy their own tear gas.

Whoever paid for it, the companies that make tear-gas are sure to benefit from the Ferguson demonstrations. Two corporations’ tear-gas products have been fired on demonstrators in recent days: Combined Tactical Systems (CTS) and Defense Technology. CTS, headquartered in Pennsylvania, is well-known for being a leading supplier of tear gas around the world, including to the governments of Israel, Egypt and Bahrain, which buy the weapons with the generous amounts of U.S. military aid given to them. Defense Technology, also based in Pennsylvania, has likewise profited from tear gas sold to Israel, Egypt and Bahrain, in addition to Yemen, Turkey and Tunisia.

I’ve seen some pretty outrageous examples of white privilege recently on Facebook and Twitter.  I’m amazed by the number of people that really don’t realize wbasket1920that most black men are not unemployed by choice and that most black people don’t live on the government dole.  Why do these damned tropes still exist?  What can white people who abhor racism do about it?  Here’s a bit from Truthout on Abolitionist Echoes.

In any unequal society, the dominant group receives intense ideological targeting. Thus, as a dominant group member, an urgent goal must be to resist the intoxicating ideologies – and material perks – that are so blinding, and to face the discomfort of being caught up in structural inequality. We have to see and own our privileged positions. Since these positions are defined structurally, we cannot simply wish them away because we don’t agree with them or we don’t want to be involved, or decide that we are not racist. Just as black people cannot wish away racism because they don’t like it, neither can white people. One of the lessons of structural inequality that is often crystal clear to oppressed groups is that this structural position has nothing to do with whether you are personally invested in them or identify with them. A black man cannot simply tell the police officer standing over him with a billy club, “I don’t see color” or “I don’t participate in racism.” Many individual white people, myself included, abhor racism and do not want to participate in reinforcing the oppression of others. And yet, like it or not, our position in the matrix of domination is such that we benefit from the system, at the expense of others, regardless of how nice we are or how much critical race theory we read.

We have to see and own our privileged positions.

In addition to facing and understanding our privileged positions as white people in a white supremacist society, we must also make sure that this awareness of our structural privilege position is translated into action and activism. Otherwise this process can turn into a paralyzing exercise in white guilt that helps no one. Worse still, it ironically turns racism into a problem of how white people feel, leaving white people’s needs and issues as the central focus of dealing with racism. The goal is not to see and then bemoan racism, but to actively fight against it. We have to face the bitter truths of our position and then ask ourselves, given where we stand in the matrix, how we can leverage that position to work to dismantle the system of structural inequality that we simultaneously occupy and abhor. Thus, how to fight and which actions to take must become the focus of white antiracism. Given that these structural inequalities are both longstanding and deep, the actions required to dismantle them will also need to be longstanding and far-reaching. There are multiple ways to take action, but what is essential is to be in service of dismantling the structural systems of inequality, including the unequal distribution of economic and political power and the structures of control from the legal to the ideological that are wielded to enforce them.

The old insult of “throwing like a girl” may have died this year.  Here’s New York Magazine with all 6 of Mo’ne Davis’s strikeouts from Wednesday night.Bennett-sisters-vintage-boxing-womens-sports-management-degrees-online

Mo’ne Davis, the 13-year-old pitcher from Philadephia’s Taney Youth Baseball Association, burst onto the national scene by throwing a shutout in the Mid-Atlantic regional final, then became a full-on star by becoming the first girl to throw a shutout in the Little League World Series tournament. How big a deal is she? She’s on the cover of this week’s Sports Illustrated, and more than 34,000 people watched her team play in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, Wednesday night. Davis lasted just two-and-a-third innings in that game, and left the mound with her team down 3-0. (They’d go on to lose, 8-1, to the team from Nevada.) But of the seven outs she recorded, an impressive six were via strikeout. Said Davis earlier this week about her repertoire: “I throw my curveball like Clayton Kershaw, and my fastball like Mo’ne Davis.” So yeah, despite not getting the win, she remains fully awesome.

Have a great Friday!  What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Thursday Reads: Police Shootings in Ferguson and Beyond

Owl reading

Good Morning!

While we at Sky Dancing Blog–along with many other Americans–have been following the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, often feeling shocked and traumatized by the overt racism on display among law enforcement personnel there, Fox News and some right wing blogs have focused on supporting Darren Wilson, the Ferguson, Missouri, police officer who shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown at noon on Saturday, August 9, touching off the protests and the police crackdown that has continued for the past 12 days. In the process they have also made efforts to smear Brown and undermine witnesses who saw the shooting.

Police initially claimed that Brown had assaulted Wilson in his police car and tried to take the officer’s gun. But there were a number of witnesses who reported seeing Wilson chase after Brown while shooting his weapon after which Brown turned around with his hands up, trying to surrender.

On August 15, without informing Governor Nixon or the Captain Ron Johnson, who was in charge of security during the protests, Ferguson police chief Tom Jackson released a 19-page document naming Michael Brown as a suspect in an alleged robbery of $48 worth of cigarillos at a Ferguson convenience store. The alleged “strong-arm” robbery took place shortly before Brown was killed. The obvious implication was that Brown deserved to die for this. Jackson also appeared on The Sean Hannity Show to push this narrative.

Later Jackson was forced to admit that shooter Darren Wilson didn’t know about the alleged robbery, and therefore it had nothing to the shooting. Recently we learned that police didn’t even have the video showing the convenience story “robbery” until days after the shooting, and the video appeared to show that Brown had actually paid for the box of cigarillos he took with him.

Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs has been documenting the latest right wing efforts to smear Brown and rehabilitate Wilson. On Tuesday, he linked to a post by Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit citing anonymous sources that claimed Darren Wilson had suffered an “orbital blowout fracture to the eye socket” during the struggle with Michael Brown. Johnson writes:

The entire right wing universe (including Drudge Report) is now screaming about this post by, yes, the Dumbest Man on the Internet again, claiming that anonymous sources told him officer Darren Wilson suffered an “orbital blowout fracture to the eye socket” in a struggle with unarmed teenager Michael Brown [NOTE: I'm not going to link to Gateway Pundit; you can find the link at LGF].

It’s possible that someone did leak this information to Hoft, but I’ll remind my readers that Jim Hoft is probably the single most dishonest right wing blogger on the Internet as well as the dumbest, with a very long history of distorting facts and completely making stuff up to push his far right, often overtly racist agenda.

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Johnson looked up the symptoms of an “orbital blowout fracture” and quoted the from description:

The most common symptoms are bruising, tenderness and swelling around the eye; redness of the eye; double vision, ordiplopia (seeing two images at the same time); numbness of the cheek, nose or teeth; nose bleeds (epistaxis) [See figure 1].

Symptoms that typically indicate a more serious injury are pain on eye movement, double vision, air under the skin around the eye, and numbness of the cheek/mouth/nose on the side of the injury. Severe trauma may cause facial bone fractures, injury to the eye itself, and injuries to the skull/brain.

You’d think someone who had just experienced such a serious eye injury would be in terrible pain and would have difficulty accurately shooting a gun. You also think he would need immediate medical attention; yet no ambulance was called for either Brown or Wilson, and Wilson was video taped walking near Brown’s body and show no signs of discomfort. Here’s the cell phone video taken by eyewitness Piaget Crenshaw.

Yesterday this story showed up on Fox News, with Bill O’Reilly reporting the “orbital blowout” claim; and today ABC News is reporting that Wilson suffered “a serious facial injury,” although they aren’t including the “orbital blowout fracture” claim. ABC news also has a video interview with an anonymous friend of Wilson’s. It’s odd that Wilson’s friends and supporters don’t want to give their names or show their faces while the eyewitnesses to the shooting have been upfront and straightforward about what they saw.

As for the facial injury, I guess we’ll have to wait and see if there is trial. At that point Wilson will need to produce medical records to prove he had a serious injury and had it promptly treated. Even then, we still won’t know how it happened. For all we know, he could have hit himself with his gun or on the car door. I can’t help but be reminded of George Zimmerman’s claims of serious injuries caused by Trayvon Martin–the injuries he didn’t bother to have a doctor examine until the next day. The bottom line is that even if Wilson actually was injured, Michael Brown should be alive and in jail now. Instead, Wilson chose to execute him on the spot.

The latest smear from right wing Wilson supporters is that Michael Brown’s friend Dorian Johnson has “recanted” his eyewitness version of the shooting. Once again, Charles Johnson responds, Did Michael Brown’s Friend Dorian Johnson “Recant” His Story? No, He Did Not.

Finally, a right wing site is raising money for Darren Wilson, and they have collected nearly $150,000 in the past three days.

The good news is that Ferguson was fairly calm yesterday after the visit from Attorney General Eric Holder. From The Washington Post, Eric H. Holder Jr., in Ferguson, shares painful memories of racism.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. arrived in the St. Louis area Wednesday to tour a community roiled by the police shooting of an unarmed African American teen — nine months after he had visited the same city to tout new initiatives aimed at keeping poor black men out of prison.

Long before the white-hot spotlight of the racially charged protests in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Holder had been intent on reforming an American criminal justice system that he said imposed “shameful” disparities on minority communities. The death of 18-year-old Michael Brown on Aug. 9 has thrust Holder, 63, into the heart of a national debate over racial justice that he has aimed to make part of his legacy.

In meetings with residents, Holder shared his own stories of being pulled over and accosted by police while growing up in New York City — and of being skeptical of police even while serving as a federal prosecutor in Washington.

“I understand that mistrust. I am the attorney general of the United States. But I am also a black man,” Holder said during an appearance at Florissant Valley Community College. “I think about my time in Georgetown — a nice neighborhood of Washington — and I am running to a picture movie at about 8 o’clock at night. I am running with my cousin. Police car comes driving up, flashes his lights, yells ‘where you going? Hold it!’ I say, ‘Whoa, I’m going to a movie.’ ”

A man identified as Kajiene Powell, with an object in his right hand, approaches police in north St. Louis. Police say that the object was a knife and that he threatened officers before he was shot to death. (St. Louis Police Department)

A man identified as Kajiene Powell, with an object in his right hand, approaches police in north St. Louis. Police say that the object was a knife and that he threatened officers before he was shot to death. (St. Louis Police Department)

Not far from the spot where Michael Brown died, another young black man was killed by St. Louis Metropolitan Police on Tuesday. A video of the shooting was released yesterday. From Huffington Post, St. Louis Police Release Video Of Kajieme Powell Killing That Appears At Odds With Their Story, by Ryan Grimm and Ashley Alman.

A convenience store owner called 911 on Tuesday when he suspected Powell stole drinks and donuts from his shop, according to a recording of the call. Another woman called to report Powell was acting erratically and had a knife in his pocket.

Two officers in a police SUV responded to the calls, the cell phone video shows. When the officers got out of their vehicle, Powell walked in their direction, yelling and telling them to shoot him already.

St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson said Tuesday that both of the officers opened fire on Powell when he came within a three or four feet of them holding a knife “in an overhand grip.”

But the newly released cell phone footage undermines the statement, showing Powell approaching the cops, but not coming as close as was reported, with his hands at his side. The officers began shooting within 15 seconds of their arrival, hitting Powell with a barrage of bullets.

Kajieme Powell apparently had long-term psychological problems. I’m not going to watch the video, but even in the still photo from the LA Times above, it looks to me as if police could have disarmed Powell and arrested him without using deadly force. The knife wasn’t raised as police claimed, and he certainly doesn’t appear to be within three feet of the officers.

A mentally disturbed man was killed by police in Sacramento, California on Monday. The Sacramento Bee reports:

Jeffrey Towe lived with delusions and profound mental illness, family members say. On Monday, he became the ninth person in the Sacramento region to die of police gunfire this year.

Towe, 53, fatally shot his own mother in 1990 in an incident that he said was a household accident. Two weeks ago, he delivered a collection of knives to his sister, telling her he couldn’t be trusted around them.

A Woodland police officer shot him dead Monday after authorities said Towe allegedly charged with a knife after officers arrived at his apartment building in response to a call about a disturbed, screaming man.

Towe’s death prompted local activists to converge Monday evening in Woodland, already motivated by the national story of the fatal police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and law enforcement response to protests there. They congregated downtown, blocking an intersection, chanting “Hands up! Don’t shoot!” – a slogan popularized in Ferguson.

The story also describes another police shooting that took place on Monday night.
In that incident, a California Highway Patrol officer shot and wounded a man who allegedly pulled a gun on officers in a drunken-driving stop. The suspect, who was hospitalized in critical but stable condition, was identified as Heath Austin Nunes, 38, of Lincoln.

The four-county Sacramento region, which includes Sacramento, Yolo, Placer and El Dorado counties, this year has nearly doubled the five fatal officer-involved shootings in 2013. In 2012, there were 16 fatal police shootings, including a record 10 by the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department. Statewide, California averaged 100 annual deaths from police shootings from 2006 to 2011.

The sports site Deadspin has decide to gather reports of police shootings and they are asking readers to help. We’re Compiling Every Police-Involved Shooting In America. Help Us.
The United States has no database of police shootings. There is no standardized process by which officers log when they’ve discharged their weapons and why. There is no central infrastructure for handling that information and making it public. Researchers, confronted with the reality that there are over 17,000 law enforcement agencies in the country, aren’t even sure how you’d go about setting one up. No one is keeping track of how many American citizens are shot by their police. This is crazy. This is governmental malpractice on a national scale. We’d like your help in changing this.

Here, we’re going to take a cue from Jim Fisher, who as far as we can tell has compiled the most comprehensive set of data on police shootings in 2011. Fisher’s method was simple: He searched for any police-involved shooting every day for an entire year. By our lights, this is the best way to scrape this information—any time a police officer shoots and hits a citizen, it will almost certainly make a local news report, at least. However, this is a time-intensive process, and our manpower is limited. Having gathered some of the data, we can say it will take the few of us here a very long time to do this on our own. So, we’re setting up a public submission form and asking for help with this project.

Check it out if you’re interested.

So I’ve run out of space and time for this post. There’s plenty of other news, so I’ll post some more links in the comments. I hope you’ll do the same. 


Wednesday Reads: You like chicken. Order that.

3e5baafcd1a0acc0135766e49746d593Good Morning

Today’s post will focus on discrimination, hate and hate crimes. Whether it is outright racism… unquestionable prejudice…probable intolerance or a hint of bigotry with a touch of “that just ain’t right” sexism.

First up however, a quick look at what is going on in Ferguson:

Another Night Of Unrest During Tenth Night Of Protests In Ferguson

After nine nights of unrest met with tear gas, riot gear and a National Guard presence, Tuesday night in Ferguson, Missouri began peacefully. But by midnight central time, tensions began to rise.

Many protesters marched along West Florissant Avenue, chanting “no justice no peace,” and “hands up, don’t shoot,” while others loitered looking on. Police were not enforcing Capt. Ron Johnson’s rule forcing protesters to keep moving or risk removal.

While people were relieved at the initial lack of confrontation Tuesday night, everyone recognized how fragile the situation was and that it could turn instantly.

I really don’t know what happened overnight, but Holder did make a statement about the situation.

Eric Holder Pens Message to Ferguson Ahead of Wednesday’s Visit

Attorney General Eric Holder will visit Ferguson, Missouri on Wednesday to get briefed by local authorities on the situation there following the fatal shooting of 18-year-old unarmed Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson. But before he arrives, Holder has written a message to the people of Ferguson for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

“At a time when so much may seem uncertain, the people of Ferguson can have confidence that the Justice Department intends to learn — in a fair and thorough manner — exactly what happened,” Holder writes.

He says he plans to “meet personally with community leaders, FBI investigators and federal prosecutors from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to receive detailed briefings on the status of this case” while in Ferguson tomorrow.

Holder urges an “end to the acts of violence in the streets of Ferguson,” saying that “they seriously undermine, rather than advance, the cause of justice.” He also vows that the Justice Department will “defend the right of protesters to peacefully demonstrate and for the media to cover a story that must be told.”

Here’s some thoughts regarding Holder’s statement and his plans to go to Ferguson:

Wall Street Journal editor: Eric Holder should tell Ferguson protesters to ‘pull up their pants’

Yeah, go and read what Wall Street Journal editorial board member Jason Riley had to say…

…Holder was there as part of President Barack Obama’s efforts to play “race-healer-in-chief.”

“These looters and rioters do not need to hear from the attorney general that criticism of Obama is race-based,” Riley told host Bret Bauer. “What they need to hear from this Black man in this position — the nation’s leading law enforcement official — is that they need to stay out of trouble with the law. They need to pull up their pants and finish school and take care of their kids. That is the message they need to hear.”

Riley is African-American, and he is not the only black man who is making outrageous statements like this. Check this out, – Tea Party Leader: Black ‘Thugs’ Do Not Deserve Due Process (VIDEO)

Then you have reaction to the statement made by Missouri Gov. Nixon, from John Marshall at TPM: Is That an Editing Error?

I want to be very clear on the point I’m about to make so that I’m not misunderstood. Gov. Nixon of Missouri put out a statement this evening on the situation in Ferguson. Much of it is boilerplate that wouldn’t surprise or inspire you. (I’m reprinting it in its entirety at the end of this post.) The gist is that to move forward peace needs to be restored in Ferguson and there needs to be justice in the case of the precipitating event – the death of Michael Brown. (There is a separate controversy over Nixon’s decision not to appoint a special prosecutor – which I think is a mistake.) But in the key line – the part two of his statement he says that “a vigorous prosecution must now be pursued.”

Now, let me be clear. This is not remotely to suggest that the facts will not show that a prosecution is in order. Based on what we know publicly, it seems very likely that there should be. But let’s not let the justified outrage at what’s transpired obscure a simple fact. There’s a great deal we in the public do not know about what happened. This goes without saying. There will be sworn witness statements, forensic evidence about Brown and Wilson and a lot else. Indeed, it’s one of the significant problems in this saga that so little information has been released. But there’s a process: a full investigation and then a decision by a prosecutor. That hasn’t happened yet.

It’s an entirely different matter for members of the public to demand a prosecution. But this is the Governor of the state, the elected official who has ultimate responsibility for carrying out the laws of the state. It’s simply crazy for him to be saying there has to be a prosecution. It’s so inappropriate that I think it’s highly likely that this is actually an editing error – or someone doing the writing who just didn’t grasp the significance of the word choice.

But even if that’s the case, the principle is so basic and important that it’s important to note: the Governor shouldn’t be publicly assuming that Wilson must be prosecuted or that a prosecution must happen for justice to be served.

BTW, Getty released a statement as well…regarding their photojournalist who was arrested Monday night. Statement from Pancho Bernasconi, VP, News, on the arrest of Getty Images staff photographer Scott Olson in Ferguson | Getty Images Press Room | Latest company news, media announcements and information

We at Getty Images stand firmly behind our colleague Scott Olson and the right to report from Ferguson. Getty Images is working to secure his release as soon as possible.  

We strongly object to his arrest and are committed to ensuring he is able to resume his important work of capturing some of the most iconic images of this news story.

Now we get to the other stories making news that touch on the subject of this post. Hate.

Read the rest of this entry »


Tuesday Reads: Ferguson Updates

ferguson photos

Good Morning!!

I can’t stop thinking about the events in Ferguson, Missouri, and flashing back to similar iconic events in the 1960s. How far have we really come since the days of the Civil Rights Movement? Clearly, racism is alive and well in 2014, particularly in police departments around the country–and not just in the South. Will the disease of racism ever be wiped out in this country, or can we only hope to control it through great effort–with laws, education, organizing, and public demonstrations?

Ferguson citizens were forced to live through another night of chaos last night, and I’m convinced at this point that deliberate police actions are making things much worse. The man in charge, Captain Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Police is clearly being used as a pawn. He was set up to fail, and at this point he is simply putting a friendly face on an ugly show of force intended to intimidate protesters and media alike. And he’s lying to make excuses for what has basically become a nightly police riot. I’ve been watching the live feed from Ferguson night after night, and I have yet to see any evidence of protesters throwing Molotov cocktails or attacking police (UPDATE: Dakinikat says there is one in the NYT video at this link.

Perhaps we’d know more about what is happening on the ground if new helicopters could fly over Ferguson, but police have ordered them not to, saying that only police helicopter can do so. Reporters and news photographers have been arrested and threatened with being maced or shot. Yesterday, as everyone here knows, police in St. Louis arrested 90-year-old Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein. From The Independent UK:

Hedy Epstein, a 90-year-old survivor of the Holocaust, was reportedly among those arrested during protests in downtown St Louis as tensions flared over the death of black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson.

Eight protesters were arrested for “failure to disperse” on Monday after marching from the Kiener Plaza to the Wainwright building where Governor Jay Nixon has an office, St Louis police confirmed on Twitter.

Ms Epstein was pictured being led away in handcuffs during demonstrations against the National Guard’s presence on the streets where clashes between protesters and authorities have been the most severe.

Ms Epstein, a resident of St Louis, is a political activist and speaker widely known for her vocal support of the Free Gaza Movement.

“I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. I didn’t think I would have to do it when I was ninety,” Ms Epstein told The Nation as she was led away by police. “We need to stand up today so that people won’t have to do this when they’re 90.”

Yes, the protests have spread to St. Louis proper now, and people are gathering in many other cities to show solidarity with Ferguson. Also arrested yesterday was Getty Images photojournalist Scott Olson, who is responsible for many of the most dramatic photos from Ferguson since the protests began.

King and Ghandi, Robert Templeton

King and Ghandi, Robert Templeton

But I want to return to the subject of racism and dishonesty in the Ferguson Police Department. I think most people who have been paying attention to this story will agree that the Ferguson cops cannot be trusted at this point. Some history, from Michael Daly at The Daily Beast: Missouri Cops’ License to Kill.

The death of 18-year-old Michael Brown is not the first time an officer supervised by Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson has killed an unarmed man….

Back in 2000, two unarmed young men were shot and killed in a Jack in the Box parking lot in the suburban town of Berkeley adjacent to Ferguson by a pair of officers assigned to a county-wide drug task force where Jackson was deputy commander.

Early reports suggested that a vehicle occupied by Earl Murray and Ronald Beasley moved toward Officers Robert Piekutowski and Keith Kierzkowski, causing them to fear being pinned against another car.

Jackson, then a lieutenant with the St. Louis County Police, told reporters, “I am convinced that the officers were in fear of their lives, that they were in immediate danger.” ….

Subsequently, investigators decided that the car occupied by the two men had not in fact begun to move in their direction when the fatal shots were fired. The officers insisted they were in fear for their lives nonetheless, essentially arguing that the car was itself a deadly weapon pointed their way. That was enough for the shooting to be ruled justified under Missouri state law. The cops were not indicted.

Read more about it at the link. It’s high time Jackson was removed as Ferguson Police Chief.

Civil Rights Movement, Camille Shumann

Civil Rights Movement, Camille Shumann

And then there was the “other Michael Brown.” From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Michael Brown, 23, of Troy, Mo., who was shot and killed along with a friend in October 2005.

Authorities said that Lincoln County sheriff’s Deputy Nic Forler fired through the back window of a pickup, killing Brown and the driver, Tyler Teasley, 22. No one in the truck was armed.

Police said Forler tried to stop Teasley’s truck for speeding but was led on a short chase. When the truck finally stopped, Forler pulled behind it, got out of his patrol car and stood between the vehicles.

Witnesses said Teasley was “freaking out” because he had been drinking, there was alcohol in the car and several passengers were under 21. In his panic, they said, Teasley left the truck in neutral. As the truck rolled backward, Forler fired the fatal shots that struck both victims in the head.

Family and friends demonstrated regularly outside the sheriff’s office. Forler was dismissed from the force and charged with involuntary manslaughter.

In a trial in 2007, moved to Boone County because of the controversy caused in Lincoln County, Forler testified that he believed Teasley was trying to run him over, and he feared for his life. The jury took only three hours to find Forler not guilty.

Read the Post-Dispatch article to learn about two more such incidents in Missouri.

Now let’s take a look at the case that Ferguson Chief Jackson has been building in order to blame Michael Brown for his own death. According to Jackson, Brown committed a “strong-arm robbery” at a gas station convenience store shortly before he was accosted by Officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed the unarmed teenager. But did that really happen? I don’t think so.

A couple of days ago people from Ferguson began posting on Twitter that the owners of the store denied reporting any robbery. Then KSDK learned from the owners’ attorney that they never reported any robbery involving Michael Brown and that perhaps a customer had called 911. But did that even happen?

I can’t prove it, but I think what may have happened is that police took surveillance videos from a number of locations and just happened to find the video of Brown in buying cigars. A Ferguson resident on Twitter told me yesterday that the store owners are saying the Ferguson police didn’t pick up the store video until last Friday, not too long before Jackson gave his press conference. And the St. Louis News confirms the tweeter was right.

The owner[s] of the store dispute the claim that they or an employee called 911, saying a customer inside the store made the call.  They also say St. Louis County issues the warrants for the hard drive of surveillance video Friday.

When asked how Ferguson police ended up with the video that the Ferguson police chief issued Friday morning.  The attorney said during the course of Ferguson’s investigation they came to the store and asked to review the tape. But it wasn’t until Friday that St. Louis County investigators issued a warrant for the video many of you have already seen.

Therefore, there is no way that Darren Wilson could have known anything about the “robbery” or that Michael Brown was a suspect.

Civil Rights Line, Janie McGee

Civil Rights Line, Janie McGee

A couple of days ago, Joy Reid of The Grio and MSNBC posted on Twitter that the store video appeared to show that Brown had actually paid for the cigars he took from the store.

Then last night Crooks and Liars put up a detailed post about it, Ferguson Cops Busted? New Video Seems To Show Brown Paying For Cigarillos (Video), by John Prager. Crooks and Liars doesn’t allow copy and paste anymore, so you’ll need to go to the link to read the article, but Prager it looks like Brown buys some cigarillos, then tries to by more, but doesn’t have enough money and so replaces them. Brown did reach across the counter, and that may be why the clerk tried to confront him.

Here’s the video.

Will the Ferguson police get away with murder once again? I think it’s likely unless the DOJ finds that the shooting of Michael Brown is a Civil Rights case. U.S. News today posted an article quoting attorneys who have defended police shooters, Police Attorneys: Brown Head Wounds Not Fatal to Officer’s Defense.

Pathologists said they found a bullet wound at the apex of the 6-foot-4 Brown’s head and what appeared to be a bullet entry above his right eye that continued downward into his jaw and then shoulder. The wounds appear to show Brown was not standing upright at the time he was shot.

“Just because he was shot somewhere near the top of his head, I don’t think that’s indicative of anything at this point,” says New Orleans attorney Eric Hessler, who defended officers involved in the 2005 post-Hurricane Katrina shooting deaths of two people on the Danziger Bridge and another person outside a convention center.

“There are scenarios that I can envision where a police officer would be justified in using deadly force in that situation,” Hessler says of the Brown case. “It depends on what the individual was doing while he was shot.”

Several officers were convicted of crimes in the post-Katrina cases, but the bridge shooting verdicts were vacated and the case is not resolved.

Attorney James Culleton, who defended New York City police officers who shot and killed unarmed black men Amadou Diallo in 1999 and Sean Bell in 2006, agrees with Hessler that the bullet trajectory isn’t necessarily game-changing.

“If the person is facing you, he’s charging at you, he could have put down his head,” Culleton says. “His head could have just slumped like he was falling forward. It doesn’t mean it’s devastating [evidence].”

We’ll have to wait and see. For now, it’s high time for Chief Jackson to be fired and for Darren Wilson to be arrested. This murderer is still receiving his salary!

civil-rights-museum-m

I’ll end with some recent headlines about Ferguson.

LA Times: Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson becomes an international incident.

Reuters: U.S. police come under gunfire, arrest 31 in Missouri racial unrest.

The Guardian: Ferguson: 31 arrested as huge show of force fails to quell unrest.

WaPo: Ferguson protesters: The peaceful, the elders, the looters, and the ‘militants’

NYT: Not Just Ferguson: National Guard Has a Long History With Civil Unrest.

Business Insider Australia: Police Captain Blames ‘A Lot’ Of The Press For ‘Glamorizing’ Ferguson Protests.

The Daily Mail: ‘He’s quiet and respectful': Second friend of cop who shot dead Michael Brown comes to his defense as ‘more than a dozen people have backed up Ferguson officer’s story’.

WaPo: Holder headed to Ferguson on Wednesday, will oversee federal response to shooting.

Jonathan Capehart: Probe into Michael Brown shooting goes to pot.

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread, and have a terrific Tuesday.


Blue Monday Morning Reads

BMTapestryGood Morning!

I have to admit that it’s getting tough to face the news these days.  I am having one of the years where everything I own has decided to break down.  It started last Labor Day with the AC unit outside and has moved on to my computer, me, two of my pets, the vacuum cleaner, my car’s brakes, and the refrigerator.

I’m having a really difficult time paying for all of these as well as dealing with the usual grief of running around trying to get it all fixed.  Most of this stuff is not the sort of thing that can wait which is the most depressing news.  Is it just me or is everything designed to completely break down within a fairly short time?

I’ve ranted quite a few times here about the consolidation of all kinds of industries in this country from banking to media to anything having to do with natural resources.  There’s a new book out from Barry Lynn called “Cornered: The New Monopoly Capitalism and the Economics of Destruction” that provides some fairly good information on the consequences of market consolidation.

Lynn Parramore: What are some of the telltale signs of monopolies?

Barry Lynn: Well, monopoly doesn’t mean that a company controls 100 percent of the marketplace. What monopoly means is that a company has sufficient control of the market to shape the outcomes of that market to its own advantage — to shape pricing, to determine who is making deals of with whom.

So what we have in America is that there are actually very few marketplaces in which you have a single company that has complete, 100 percent control. But what you do have is many marketplaces, thousands of markets, in which you have a dominant player that really controls commerce in that activity.

A really good sign, the thing you’ll actually tend to see in a newspaper or on TV is the merger, a big deal, two companies coming together. And most of the time, the press will cover it as, well, here’s an opportunity to invest. Or here’s a company that you should be looking at in the future. But what you’re actually seeing in many cases is the creation of power or the increasing power of a particular corporation over a particular marketplace.

LP: For the average person, how do monopolies affect our lives, prevent us from getting and doing the things we need?

BL: Monopolies affect us in innumerable ways. The most obvious way, the way that people always talked about, is that monopolies usually have the power to raise the price in some activity, for some good, for some service. We see that, say, with Comcast and cable services. But monopolists also have the capacity to reduce our liberties.

As workers, one of the things you prize is an open market where you can sell your work to many potential buyers, many potential employers. If there’s a lot of consolidation nationally in your industry, or even your town, you may find yourself with really only one or two buyers for your work. That means that you have less ability to negotiate higher wages. It also means that you have less real freedom: you can’t just pick up and leave if you get a bad boss.

I watched a program about a new movie starring Meryl Streep and Jeff Bridges based on the book “The Giver” this weekend. It’s yet another take on a2004011700140201 dystopian future but it sounds quite interesting and the casting is super.  Here’s a piece in The Atlantic over the movie and the idea of equality/inequality which is central to the theme of the book and movie.

The world is an increasingly unequal and unfair place, economists tell us. Every year, it becomes a little harder to picture what equal opportunity and egalitarianism even look like. As the rich attract capital like Jupiter attracts space debris and the poor fail to make any substantial gains, the gap between them comes to seem to us less surmountable, more of a force of nature than something for which we can even imagine a reasonable counterfactual.

Fortunately, we have literature to help us out with that.

Specifically, we have young adult literature, and its fascination with the way that the world is made, unmade, and remade.

If you grew up in the 1980s or 1990s and were of a bookish turn, you either readThe Giver or had it read to you, despite the numerous times that moral hawks tried to keep it out of your hands. (Naturally, this only made it more attractive.) The book, and numerous others that followed it, imagined worlds where economic conditions dictate the facts of human life, as of course they have a tendency to do.

* * *

In The Giver, society has “solved” inequality by dramatically reducing personal property and having the state distribute what’s left. (This is not the sort of solution that might be recommended by a moderate market skeptic, like Capital in the Twenty-First Century’s author Thomas Piketty. His proposal—raising the income tax or making it more progressive—wouldn’t make for the most exciting subject, especially for young-adult page turners.) Such a solution like The Giver‘s has a stellar literary pedigree: It harkens back to thinkers like Thomas More, who in 1516 invented the egalitarian no-place (“utopia”), and to the socialist philosophers of the 19th century, especially Friedrich Engels.

Engels saw the institutions of family and private property as deeply entwined. Part of Engels’ objection to the institution of the family was that it involved a “progressive narrowing of the circle, originally embracing the whole tribe, within which the two sexes have a common conjugal relation.” Marxism’s benevolent tendencies are swallowed up by concern and preference for one’s immediate family, which becomes the unit of basic inequality.

Like Engels and Marx, Piketty and his contemporaries worry about “patrimonial capitalism,” or the tendency for certain families to only become richer, because the rate of return on capital exceeds the ordinary rate of growth. Have more capital, get more growth, have more capital, get more growth, and so on.

But there’s another kind of patrimony, as everyone who has ever ended up doing the same thing as her parents knows. There is a real danger that inequality is not just related to literal capital accumulation, but to equality of opportunity and the accumulation of cultural capital. This might include things like what kind of education your family can afford to give you, but also could be as simple as what you see in front of you every day and the way that it either expands or limits your opportunities, your very knowledge of to what you can reasonably aspire.

Anyway, it seems worth viewing if only for the cast.  Streep plays the villain btw.

bskyb_image_187918_v1_child_with_dove_1901_1_400x240If there’s ever been an example of a post capitalist dream turned dystopia on earth, it has to be the city of Detroit.  It was once the center of our premier industry.  We haven’t mentioned the most recent development there.   The city is shutting off water service to many people.  That’s basically turning lives over to a less than third world living situation and it sets up a potential Health Crisis.  Thousands of families–including infants and the elderly– no longer have running water.

A new mass rally in Detroit is planned for Friday, August 29, the day the state-enforced city bankruptcy trial begins. Democracy activists throughout the Midwest are again urged to come demonstrate against the water shut-offs and the hostile takeover of Detroit’s assets.

In this period of mass despair over rampant political corruption and economic injustice in America, many people ask, “Does protest really make a difference?” The answer is yes, and it is being proven right now in Detroit, the frontline battleground in the growing resistance movement against the hostile corporate takeover and looting of American cities nationwide.

Detroit is the model for a nascent democracy mass movement. On July 18, thousands of demonstrators from around the country linked arms and marched in downtown Detroit, past the City Emergency Manager’s office and the JP Morgan Chase Bank, in a show of solidarity against the ongoing corporate-led assault on city worker’s pensions and most recently, the indiscriminate shut-off of water, without notice, to more than 15,000 families, mostly African American.

While businesses, large corporations and banks – 55 percent of which were in arrears on water bills – were exempted from the shut-offs, service to 40,000 homes was reportedly on the chopping block. Thousands had already been left without clean water, with no concern shown for infants and children, pregnant women, the sick, elderly or handicapped. Many Detroit activists and civic leaders, including Congressman John Conyers, attended the rally at Hart Plaza and decried the water shut-offs as a human rights violation and a public health crisis.

As one prominent sign at the front of the rally stated, “WHERE DO YOU EXPECT US TO SH*T?”

On the same morning that the protest rally exploded, civil disobedience was used to block private company trucks performing the shut-offs from leaving their garage. Nine activists were arrested, including three clergy members and Baxter Jones, an activist with a disability who uses a wheelchair for mobility. Pastor Bill Wylie-Kellermann stated after his arrest: “Detroit is under assault by lawless and illegitimate authority. It’s a moral issue. As religious leaders and allies, we are upping the ante, spiritually and politically, by putting our bodies in the way. We pray to intensify the struggle with civil disobedience, even as it is broadened with mass action and legal challenge. As one of our fallen mentors Charity Hicks urged, we are seeking to ‘wage love’ in the face of death. Such deeds can sometimes break the dreadful silence of our occupied corporate media.”

The protest actions, following an admonition from the United Nations that Detroit’s water shut-off was indeed a human rights violation, embarrassed both Governor Rick Snyder and his appointed “Emergency Manager,” Kevin Orr. Within three days, Orr announced a 15-day moratorium of the shut-offs; a respite later extended to August 24. Soon after, Orr relinquished administration of the Water Department to the city.

The demonstrations may ultimately serve to deter a planned privatization of the city’s water system: a Detroit asset estimated to be worth many billions of dollars that sits adjacent to 21 percent of the world’s freshwater supply in the Great Lakes.

Also clearly irritated by the attention on the shut-offs was Federal Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes, who demanded an explanation from the city, stating that the water issue was hurting Detroit’s reputation in the world community. The mass actions turned a powerful national spotlight on Detroit’s controversial bankruptcy, including full coverage of the resulting water war on major TV and cable networks, and in printed press ranging from the Detroit Free Press to the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.

Detroit activists “felt the love” as the media and internet were lit up and news of the protests went viral; thousands of blogs and social media communications spread the word, and within days, perhaps millions became aware of Detroit’s crisis. The coverage illuminated the role of criminal banks and real estate moguls, as well as the attacks on pension funds and attempted privatization of the water system.

Overnight, this local crisis emerged as an example of the national “shock doctrine” strategy being spread like a plague by the Tea Party and ALEC; exposing their “emergency management” laws as facilitating a strategy to undermine democracy and pave the path for surreptitious privatization of public assets.

The rally shed light on the complicity of the major Wall Street banks in Detroit’s economic spiral, banks whose investors continue to thrive while Main Street takes the brunt of the financial losses they caused. “Detroit is just the canary in the mine” was a refrain often repeated by the rally speakers.

van_gogh-iris-1890So, this is turning into quite the serious post.  But, like I said, this just seems to be one of those moon or solar phases, I guess.  Amnesty International is on the ground in Ferguson.  It’s the first time they’ve ever deployed in the USA.

Amnesty International has taken “unprecedented” action to deal with the situation in Ferguson, Missouri, by sending resources the human rights group has never deployed inside the United States.

The organization has been on the ground in Ferguson since Thursday, sending a 13-person human rights delegation to the city in the wake of the Aug. 9 police shooting death of Michael Brown.

Jasmine Heiss, a senior campaigner with Amnesty who is a part of the team in Ferguson, said the use of the “cross-functional team” — which she said included community trainers, researchers, and human rights observers — was “unprecedented” within the United States for the group.

On Saturday, after Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency and put a curfew in place in Ferguson, Amnesty International USA’s executive director, Steven W. Hawkins, issued a scathing statement.

“We criticize dictators for quelling dissent and silencing protestors with tactics like curfews, we’ll certainly speak out when it’s happening in our own backyard,” he said. “The people of Ferguson have the right to protest peacefully the lack of accountability for Michael Brown’s shooting.”

I’m ending with the results of Michael Brown’s private autopsy which was released last evening. Brown was shot at least 6 times and twice in the head Blue_Lovers_Marc_Chagallwhich is  interesting given that he was 6’4″.  Eric Holder has ordered an autopsy as part of the Federal investigation.  Governor Nixon held court in the Sunday Shows.  I have to admit that I left the TV off all day.  There’s only so much one old lady can take. 

Nixon called St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch, an “experienced prosecutor.” Nixon said he had no timetable for the investigation.

Nixon also told ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos” that his office was unaware that Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson was going to release on Friday a videotape showing what is alleged to be Brown, 18, in what police have called a “strong-armed” robbery of cigars in a convenience store shortly before he was killed.

“Rest assured we have had very serious discussions about that action” and its effect on Brown’s family, Nixon told NBC’s “Meet the Press.” — Chuck Raasch, 10:30 a.m. Sunday

So, the Governor has no problem with the prosecutor.  That’s interesting too.

So, I’m going to end it here. What’s on your reading and blogging list today? 


Sunday Reads: Time Lapses

71d3459140005b43af4c275172f1a4d9Good Morning

Time lapse photography is something that fascinates me, I think we can look at a picture of a time lapse image and see a metaphor for life. Movement, continuous and repetitive.

There are a couple of types of time lapse photography….the short exposure kind which 63c58031b4a2abf282b982963ab1e3dbtakes a normal exposure of sequential pictures over many hours or even days and edit them into one photograph.

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(Like the sunset images you see by artist, Matt Molloy. )

 

Time lapse of moths in the porchlight - photographed by Steve Irvine for National Geographic

Time lapse of moths in the porchlight – photographed by Steve Irvine for National Geographic

Or the long exposure method, where the camera shutter remains open for a long period of time and exposes the film to the image it is photographing.

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These particular long exposed photos are blurred in appearance.  Creating a glowing, disoriented, disturbed, ghostlike, or drugged feeling when you look at them.

It seems as if we are living in a time lapsed state of mind, as you have been reading the Boston Boomer’s and Dak’s coverage of late, the mess in Missouri is just the result of what has been building over time. Like the images you will see below throughout the post…the same scenarios have been played out all over the US. The actual persons involved may be different, but the general characteristics are the same. When we see the reports of racial violence play out on the news, we feel that repetition. Like the time lapsed images, the scenes become blurred. Yet we know what happens at the end of the shot. There is a good example of the differences in media treatment of violence here by the way: When The Media Treats White Suspects And Killers Better Than Black Victims be sure to look at that….No need to belabor the point, I will just let this op/ed by Farai Chideya from the Guardian do that for me.

Waiting in Grand Central Station by James Maher, time-lapse picture. Prints available on his website.

Waiting in Grand Central Station by James Maher, time-lapse picture. Prints available on his website.

(One note however, it makes a uncomfortable point when Rand Paul gets a pat on the back from a black woman…considering the neocon racist misogynistic shit he usually spews…but you’ll get the point the author is making.) On race, America has far to go. Ferguson won’t be the last flash point

 

I spent my very early years in New York, living a very multiracial Sesame Street life, a big swinging bellbottom of a childhood. And then our family moved to Baltimore and the iron curtain of the “colour line” fell. I felt that I had moved from the 1970s through a time warp where black and white were the only two colours and never the twain shall socially meet.

 

I grew to understand what the 50s were actually like in Baltimore, when my mother, for example, was permitted to buy clothes from the major department store but not try them on. (Heaven forfend some black lady should be in the dressing room, right? You know they leave a residue of blackness on the clothes.)

4cadbc8a7518db67eab58c6dd7091105

America has never had one racial reality, but a series of them strung together from San Antonio to Pittsburgh to Appalachia. What we are seeing in Ferguson, Missouri, is the result of life in a specific type of heavily racialised zone. Yes, a city such as New York, where a black man was recently choked to death by police officers, has its own very clear forms of racialisation and it’s a national issue. But the police killing, last week, of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teen in Ferguson has sparked national protests because it represents a specific type of racialisation. This is of the majority black city, big or small, with a white economic and political power structure.

Read the whole opinion piece. This is the part about Rand Paul though, it comes in comparison to Obama’s reactions to Ferguson’s Police Departments militarization:

After the killing of another black youth, Trayvon Martin, Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote a seminal piece for Atlantic magazine called “Fear of a Black President”, describing President Obama as “conservative… in the very sphere where he holds singular gravity – race.”

Two years later, with Ferguson, the president still holds tight to that caution about addressing racial inequality. In terms of day-to-day Washington governance, there is no fear of a black president. Congress fears him not, certainly not the Republicans and not even some members of his own party. And now, with a particularly tepid and circular statement on Ferguson, the president has gone even further.

He seems obsessed with convincing white Americans he is not some goblin come to take their privilege away, rather than recognising that, pragmatically, America still has enough deeply held racial biases that he will be perceived as a race man by some, no matter what he does. (Black Americans learned his political strategy on race early in his first term, as a group of leaders of African American organisations came to ask for more White House focus on jobs in black communities and were rebuffed. They held their televised press conference outside the White House in a snowstorm, a nature-made bathetic fallacy.)

L2e1618565958e4f6a151a0d71c18debeast week, the president delivered a speech that seemed to weigh police intimidation and harassment of protesters and press with acts of vandalism almost equally. “Put simply, we all need to hold ourselves to a high standard, particularly those of us in positions of authority,” he said. “Let’s remember that we’re all part of one American family.”

In this diffuse speech, the president could have spoken out more forcefully against the militarisation of local police forces, as Republican Rand Paul has done. He could have tackled the unacceptable level and variety of unwarranted stops, searches and frisking of black men in particular. For bonus points, he could have gotten into black incarceration rates or, as author Michelle Alexander puts it, the “New Jim Crow”.

You can read the rest at the link.  That is something…when an asshole like Rand gets kudos from a black woman who has the phrase “New Jim Crow” in the same paragraph.  But I think I get her point….yes? I don’t know. Don’t get me wrong, I agree with her, but she could have pick a different politician to highlight…am I right? Let’s not forget that Paul is the dude who didn’t support the Civil Rights Act…no matter what shit he says now: Wash. Post Recasts Rand Paul As Civil Rights Ally, Forgetting Their Own Reporting | Blog | Media Matters for America

Anyway…I need to move on.

In another Op/Ed, this one from the Sprinfield News-Leader, which is quoted as, “This editorial is the view of the News-Leader Editorial Board, Linda Ramey-Greiwe, President and Publisher, Paul Berry, Executive Director, Cheryl Whitsitt, Managing Editor.” Our Voice: Rights lost in Ferguson riots

It is very good, and I feel it is too important not to quote the entire thing:

On Aug. 9, unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed by police officer Darren Wilson at 12:01 p.m. in Ferguson. A vigil on Aug. 10 turned violent.

The situation deteriorated from there.

10a05408d491d190dbe05b7c71e4d0bdRiots and arrests. Tear gas and rubber bullets. Real bullets, riot gear and military-grade displays of force. Injuries to both protesters and police. Looting and needless destruction of property. For four straight nights, the clashes escalated, the national media descended, and still, no clear information was put forth about the death of a young, unarmed black man. After a day of relative calm gave hope that the situation was beginning to defuse, tempers flared again Friday.

As unrest continues, the blame game is already underway. At this point, it would be easy to join in on the finger-pointing based on half-truths.

It would be easy join the chorus of voices calling out our elected leaders, Gov. Nixon, U.S. Sens. McCaskill and Blunt and President Obama, for waiting so long to intervene.

It would be easy to place blame on the protesters for turning violent and rioting, citing the need for peaceful assembly.

It would be easy to hoist the burden of responsibility onto local authorities in Ferguson for their poor handling of the situation, inciting protesters to riot rather than bringing calm.

It would be easy to join in blaming the media for stirring up the situation by giving attention to it.

It would be easy to, as some are now doing, blame the young man himself for allegedly participating in a theft prior to his altercation with the police.

But there is nothing easy about the situation in Ferguson. A solution for the community will take doing the hard work.

Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol is doing the hard work. Rather than waging a battle, Johnson is working to open the lines of communication and erase the artificial boundaries between authorities and protesters.

State Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal and St. Louis alderman Antonio French are doing the hard work. Providing on-the-ground leadership, standing up to rioters, calling for peaceful protests and documenting events on Twitter, their work is reason to hope that the community will make it through this crisis.

There is no shortage of people being thrust forward to take the blame for what has happened in Ferguson. But at this moment, as the nation watches a community teetering on the edge of chaos, we must take the time to examine exactly what we are losing.

1d1f05280a72b879b2cde8a62e3a0275An unarmed young man was shot and killed by police. His right to due process was violated, which demands an explanation. With an investigation underway, it is our duty as citizens to care as much about the process and outcome of the investigations by the FBI and Department of Justice as we do the riots.

As the black community in Ferguson protested, it was met with aggression, intimidation and eventual force from authorities. Some people rioted, which cannot be condoned in our society and should be dealt with. But many assembled peacefully, and were met with the same treatment. Peacefully assembled crowds had their rights violated as well. We must seek answers as to why.

Two reporters, Wesley Lowery of the Washington Post and Ryan Reilly of the Huffington Post, were taken into custody as they tried to follow police orders to leave a McDonald’s restaurant, where they were working. Other journalists were specifically told to stop reporting what was happening. Again, rights were violated, this time in an attempt to silence the press that is promised to remain free.

Blame is as easy to assign as it is to dodge. At some point, someone will “take responsibility” for what happened. Over the past several years, this has come to mean little more than an acceptance that people will think poorly of the person for a few weeks.

5723b558462f2f1cacf666aeb4593696Or until the next big outrage comes along to distract us.

As Americans and Missourians thankful for the rights afforded to us by our Constitution, we must not lose interest in these events because the spectacle stops. Now is the time to wade through the rhetoric in order to hold our government and society accountable for what is happening in Ferguson.

It’s the only way we’ll manage to restore those rights.

Good for the Springfield News-Leader! Damn glad there is a press out there near the heart of the situation that is keeping check on things.  The News-Leader is a Gannett newspaper…

As I was getting ready to shut down the laptop, these headlines caught my attention:

It’s around 4:00 AM btw.

Ferguson On Edge On First Night With Curfew Huffington Post

Clusters of Protesters Defy Night Curfew in Ferguson – NYTimes.com

Police enforce curfew against protesters in Ferguson, Missouri | Reuters

Police deploy tear gas to impose Ferguson curfew – Nation – Boston.com

 

Okay. Next up, another op/ed, a link from last week: Rekha Basu: Iowa summit serves reminder of why religion, politics don’t mix | Opinion | McClatchy DC

Of everything coming out of this year’s Iowa Family Leadership Summit, the fear factor is what stayed with me.

It was a constant, discomfiting undercurrent, like a loose nail poking up in your shoe. It was organization President Bob Vander Plaats declaring this a time of “spiritual warfare,” and speaker Joel Rosenberg announcing America is “on the road to collapse” and “implosion,” and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, warning grimly, “We are living in some very dangerous times.”

The third year of the event sponsored by the self-described Christ-centered organization that seeks to influence policy and elections, brought big name politicians Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum, Ted Cruz and Rick Perry to Ames, Iowa, this past weekend. They were there to rally the Republican base in the lead-off caucus state. But the upbeat, love-God-and-country tone of previous events appeared at times to have been replaced by a somber, calamitous note of foreboding. Even Satan got a few mentions.

2535da149fb4be80aa512412356bb63dProjected onto a giant screen to punctuate Vander Plaats’ remarks was a video filled with haunting images of Osama bin Laden, Adam Lanza and the Boston marathon bombings. It depicted a rising national debt, marijuana, Boys Scouts, gay rainbow flag and a woman holding up a “Keep abortion legal” sign. It ended with someone yelling, “God is dead. Hail Satan!”

Sponsors and speakers still exalted matrimony and procreation in heterosexual relationships, called for putting God back in the classroom and government, and called abortion murder. But this year’s message was: The nation is in moral decline. Ignore it at your own peril. That was even carried into foreign policy.

 

I am telling you all, I live in the bible belt. I see these assholes everyday. They are powerful. And they vote.

Rosenberg, an evangelical Christian born to a Jewish father, said the United States must not support a two-state solution in Israel because a sovereign Palestinian state “defies the biblical mandate.” Interesting that a Christian American would presume to tell Palestinian Muslims they don’t deserve a homeland because of what the Bible says. This follows an evangelical belief that Jews from around the world will gather in Israel, where the second coming of Christ will occur and – though Rosenberg didn’t spell this out – be converted to Christianity.

“God loves you but if we don’t receive Christ, there are consequences,” Rosenberg warned.

e90122b747c138a358eb49854f70d5b8Is fear a new strategy for the Family Leader and its affiliated Family Research Council and Focus on the Family? Is it a response to flagging interest and political losses? Organizers said there were 1,200 attendees, and that there has been steady growth in three years. But many seats were empty. Is it a concession they’re losing the battle over abortion and gay rights? Abortion has not been completely outlawed, even under a conservative U.S. Supreme Court majority. Having succeeded in getting three justices of the Iowa Supreme Court voted out over same-sex marriage, a few years ago, the Family Leader failed in its more recent campaign against a fourth. Same-sex couples are celebrating wedding anniversaries with children and grandchildren, and the planet has survived.

What the planet might not ultimately survive – global warming – wasn’t on the agenda. In fact, if this were a true gathering of faith leaders, one might have expected some commitment to keeping the environment healthy, some compassion for the poor and immigrants. There were calls for abolishing the entire tax system that sustains the poor in times of need. There were calls for boosting border patrols to turn back young asylum seekers before their cases are heard. Iowa’s governor, Terry Branstad, boasted of having cut 1,400 state employees and cut property taxes, which fund education, more than ever in Iowa history.

b31a8821deca5cc1cf34fe447a61cb1eBut if it were a political forum to vet candidates, a Jewish, Muslim, agnostic or atheist one would have had no place there. In one video, Billy Graham’s daughter, Anne Graham Lotz, said, “The only place you get right with God is at the foot of the cross of Jesus Christ.”

 

As with the other links, I urge you to read it all. That blurred scene that distorts and disturbs….you can feel it!

On the ridiculous notion, I must say this could have been me: South Carolina Mom Arrested For Cursing In Front Of Her Kids

Parents, it looks like it’s time to be ever-vigilant about your choice of words. Dropping an F-bomb in front of your kids can land you in jail.

Mom Danielle Wolf was grocery shopping at a Kroger store in North Augusta, South Carolina when she was arrested for disorderly conduct after cursing in the presence of her two daughters, WJBF News Channel 6 reports.

According to the incident report from the North Augusta Department Of Public Safety, Wolf yelled at her children, told them to “stop squishing the f*cking bread,” and used “similar phrases multiple times.” Another woman at the store then approached the mother and asked her to stop using that language with her children.

 

7b0dd5e4b1f9666ab1d32a8c1f72e475But Wolf insists this is not what happened. “She’s like, ‘you told that they were smashing the bread’, and I said ‘no’ I said that to my husband, that he was smashing the bread by throwing the frozen pizzas on top of it,” she told WJBF.

But the woman, who was referred to “Ms. Smith” in the police report and later identified as “Michelle” by NBC affiliate WAGT, reported Wolf to the authorities, leading to the mother’s arrest for disorderly conduct.

“He was like, ‘You’re under arrest’… right in front of kids, in front of my husband, in front of customers,” Wolf told WJBF of the officer who approached her in the store. She added, “I didn’t harm nobody. I didn’t hurt nobody. The lady said she was having a bad day. So, because you’re having a bad day you’re going to ruin somebody’s life.”

Well, fuckadoodledoo!

Perhaps arresting the mother in front of her kids was more traumatic than telling the dumbass husband to stop “squishing the fucking bread.”

In the world of Amazon and the Washington Post, a buck is a buck: Bezos-owned Washington Post now inserting gross Amazon affiliate links into news articles | PandoDaily

Six paragraphs into the story, we find this…

Screen Shot 2014-08-16 at 6.32.53 PM

…a “buy it now” button, wedged into editorial copy and linked to an affiliate account of Amazon.

1eaa186b6b4ccd5bd8c7bca64ace6628A quick skim around the WaPost site suggests this is something the Post is doing with all of its book reviews now, as well as on news items and even letters to the editor. The link to the Roald Dahl book links to the Amazon affiliate ID “slatmaga-20″ (presumably short for Slate Magazine, per the Post’s ties with that publication). That ID can also be found in a link within this letter to the editor. Meanwhile, this music book review links to the Amazon affiliate ID “thewaspost-03″.

Despite the various IDs being used, one thing is very clear: The Washington Post now sees reviews of books, and even news reports about books, as fair game for selling those same to readers, editorial independence be dammed.

Shit. What do you think will come next?  Brought to you by Carl’s Jr. 

(Hope you get that commercial reference.)

 

This post is getting real…real…real long so let’s just link dump for a bit. After the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »


Saturday Reads: The Shooting of Michael Brown and the Protests in Ferguson, Missouri

 

Demonstrators gather along West Florissant Avenue on Friday to protest the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer on Aug. 9. Friday’s demonstration ended with protesters clashing with police followed by more looting. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Demonstrators gather along West Florissant Avenue on Friday to protest the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer on Aug. 9. Friday’s demonstration ended with protesters clashing with police followed by more looting. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Good Morning!!

I’ve been following the events in Ferguson, Missouri for a week now. Last Saturday, 18-year-old Ferguson citizen Michael Brown was gunned down by a Ferguson police officer in broad daylight. That officer, who was finally named yesterday, is Darren Wilson. So far the media has not even been able to come up with a photo of Wilson, who had nearly a week to wipe out his media presence. He’s a complete mystery man.

After Wilson shot Brown multiple times, he stood over the body and called for assistance without informing dispatch that he had just shot someone. According to witnesses, Wilson did not check Brown for vital signs. Brown’s body lay in the street for an extended period–it’s not clear how long. No medical personnel were called to determine whether he needed assistance or to take his body to a hospital. Eventually police loaded the body into a police vehicle and took it away.

When family and others in the community protested, Ferguson police chief Thomas Jackson asked St. Louis County police to provide “security.” As we all know, there was an intense police crackdown on peaceful protesters, and journalists were harassed and even arrested as were several community leaders.

On Thursday, Governor Jay Nixon ordered Ferguson and St. Louis County police to withdraw their military equipment from the streets of the small suburb and had handed over control of security to Captain Ronald S. Johnson of the Missouri State Police. Johnson is a lifelong Ferguson resident and is African American.

On Thursday night protesters were left alone to protest peacefully, and police were dressed in normal uniforms. Johnson walked among the protesters and patiently answered their questions. Apparently Chief Jackson and his men were unhappy with the peace and harmony, so they found a way to sow discord once again.

Around noon yesterday, without informing Captain Johnson of what he planned to do, Jackson released an 18 page media handout complete with still images from surveillance video, in which he accused dead teenager Michael Brown of stealing a box of cigars from a gas station convenience store in what he termed “a strong-arm robbery.” The stolen property was valued at $48.00. Jackson released this information immediately after revealing that mystery officer Darren Wilson had shot and killed Brown.

The implication was obvious. Brown deserved to die because he had shoplifted some cigars. The pictures of the young man police claimed was Brown were splashed all over the media and internet–but nary a photo of Wilson appeared.

Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson announces the name of Officer Darren Wilson as the man who shot and killed Michael Brown, 18, last Saturday.

Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson announces the name of Officer Darren Wilson as the man who shot and killed Michael Brown, 18, last Saturday.

Hours later, around 4PM, Chief Jackson held another press conference in which he admitted that killer cop Darren Wilson had no knowledge of the shoplifting incident that Brown had allegedly been involved in. He supposedly stopped Brown and his friend because they were walking in the street “blocking traffic.” So why was the 18-page handout released, reporters asked? Because reporters had requested it, said Jackson. But that wasn’t true either.

According to “MSNBC contributor” Goldie Taylor, who spent last night trying to find any reporter who had requested information on the convenience store robbery, no one requested it–in fact no one in the media knew about the incident until Jackson revealed it.

Reporters had specifically requested the officer’s report on the shooting and Brown’s autopsy report, but those were not released. Reporters have repeatedly asked Jackson how many times Brown was shot and the locations of the bullets, but he has refused to answer those questions.

Naturally Brown’s family and other Ferguson residents were outraged by Jackson’s behavior. He had poisoned the atmosphere in town once again.

Last night began as Thursday night had, with peaceful demonstrations and normal police presence. But early this morning, outsiders showed up and for a short time looted Ferguson businesses, including the store that Michael Brown had been accused of stealing from. From what I’ve been able to learn on Twitter from people who were there, protesters tried to stop the looters and helped to clean up damage to businesses; and there are reports of that in the mainstream media.

I thought I’d just write my own summary of events to begin with, since this situation is so complex. The racism that has been on display has been just stunning. It’s as if we’ve all been transported back to a much earlier era. But unfortunately the racism is real. You can see it on display in the behavior of law enforcement members in Ferguson and St. Louis, and in the people on Twitter and media comment sections cheering on the hatred against and even the murder of African Americans.

dont shoot2

Some representative articles to read about recent events in Ferguson.

MSNBC: Michael Brown Killing: Police in Ferguson Fire Tear Gas Amid Looting.

Armored vehicles rolled back onto the streets of Ferguson early Saturday, as riot police faced off with looters in the Missouri town gripped by protests since the fatal police shooting of an unarmed black teen.

The violence broke the brief period of calm that had settled over Ferguson, Missouri, after outrage over the shooting of Michael Brown spilled over.

Protests had started off peacefully in Ferguson on Friday night. Rev. Jesse Jackson linked arms with protesters, leading them in prayer and urging them to “turn pain into power” while fighting back non-violently, NBC Affiliate KSDK reported. Shortly after midnight, crowds got rowdier and looting began to break out, according to KSDK….
Tear gas was deployed and riot police moved in, with some locals forming lines to protect local businesses from looters.
A handful of owners stood guard this morning at their businesses, doing their best to discourage any more looting or violence.

Rain fell on the scene of broken out windows and ransacked store shelves at businesses like Ferguson Market and Liquor.

The streets of Ferguson mostly were void of protesters by 6 a.m. as dawn broke and the rain continued after the violent night.

After some of the protesters blocked the entrances to businesses and civic leaders, including St. Louis Alderman Antonio French, arrived early Saturday, the scene calmed and the brief outbreak of looting ended.

The police line was still in place near West Florissant and Ferguson avenues but had not advanced to the site of the protest line as of 2:30. Officers also did not move in during the looting.

Outrage In Missouri Town After Police Shooting Of 18-Yr-Old Man

It’s amazing how quickly a few assholes can ruin things for people who have worked so hard to bring peace and justice after the death of an unarmed young man. Chief Jackson must be very happy with his handiwork this morning.

KDSK.com: Protesters tried to keep looters out of stores.

Several hundred people congregated on a busy Ferguson street Friday night as protests continued nearly a week after 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer. It was peaceful until about midnight, when a large crowd broke into the convenience mart that Brown allegedly robbed the day he was killed. The looting continued there for several hours, with looters entering and exiting freely with as many items as they could carry, including the store cash register.

The looting took place despite the best efforts of some who said they were among the peaceful protesters who marched early in the evening.

Michael Davis was among those who were peacefully protesting when things turned violent. “It was positive. Everything was going fairly well with everyone out here during the day. But as it turned night, it got hectic and things got out of hand in front of the Ferguson Market and Liquor store.”

According to Davis, they were having some success in calming things down until police showed up and teargassed the crowd. At that point looters “broke through his protective line and into the store.”

New York Times: Emotions Flare in Missouri Amid Police Statements.

One day after roiling tensions over the police shooting of a black teenager here began to subside, emotions flared anew on Friday as the police identified the officer involved but also released evidence that the victim was a suspect in a convenience store robbery moments before being shot.

The manner in which the police here released the information, which included a 19-page police report on the robbery but no new details about the shooting, led to the spectacle of dueling police news conferences, one led by a white officer who seemed ill at ease and defensive, and the other dominated by a charismatic black officer who expressed solidarity with the crowd even as he pleaded for peace.

The white officer, Thomas Jackson, the police chief in Ferguson, gave a series of incomplete accounts that sowed confusion about whether the officer who shot the teenager knew he was a suspect in the robbery. The black officer, Capt. Ronald S. Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, expressed his displeasure with how the information had been released.

“I would have liked to have been consulted,” he said pointedly about the pairing of the shooter’s identity with the robbery accusation.

Washington Post: Protests and looting return to Ferguson overnight, but most want peace [a collection of tweets from journalists covering Ferguson last night]

Reporters on the ground in Ferguson, most of whom have been there for nearly the entire week, painted on Twitter a dramatic and sometimes frightening scene as the unrest mounted. Emotions were heightened Friday after Darren Wilson was named as the officer who shot Brown and the Ferguson police released video surveillance of Brown allegedly stealing cigars from a convenience store.

The clashes throughout the night seem to have divided the protesters, pitting some who were assembling peacefully against others who were looting businesses in the St. Louis suburb.

As of early Saturday morning, some protesters were helping store owners clean their destroyed shops and many were eager to draw a clear distinction between the angry rioters and the other protesters.

 Head over to that link to read a Twitter timeline.

ferguson signs

More relevant links.

The Washington Post, Seven in 10 black Americans say the criminal justice system treats them unfairly.

Mother Jones, Exactly How Often Do Police Shoot Unarmed Black Men?

Reuters Column, Less than human: Do some police take a step beyond simple prejudice?

Peacock Panache, Conservative Hypocrisy: Bundy Ranch Versus Ferguson Protest Media Coverage.

Addicting Info, Ferguson Police Excuses Destroyed As Anonymous Shares Dispatch Recordings (AUDIO).

Mother Jones, Meet the St. Louis Alderman Who’s Keeping an Eye on Ferguson’s Cops.

Washington Post, Required reading on race, Michael Brown and Ferguson, Mo.

Spocko at Hullabaloo, What’s the Media Strategy of #Ferguson Protesters? The Police Have One. 

The Atlantic, Echoes of Michael Brown’s Death in St. Louis’s Racially Charged Past.

The Atlantic, The Roots of Violence in Ferguson Run Deep.

Jonathan Chait, Joe Scarborough, Mike Allen Form Journalistic Axis of Evil.

I know there’s plenty of other news; I’ve just been focused on this story. Please feel free to discuss and recommend links on any topic in the comment thread.