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.

<——————————–

(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.

——————————->

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 »

Advertisements

Monday Reads: Police Brutality Edition

Good Morning!27BOOK-articleLarge

I don’t know about you, but I’m getting tired of all the stories about America’s out of control Police Departments.  The last few weeks have been especially illustrative of police departments that use deadly force first and cover it all up later.  There’s just one story after another of police shooting and killing unarmed citizens and hapless dogs. Almost immediately afterwards, we get some kind of arrest, story, or whatever that says the police acted righteously. Why are so many unarmed people being killed by heavily armed police officers?  WTF is going on?

There are four recent  incidents where the police used deadly force in highly questionable situations.  The first shooting is from Texas, the second from Ohio, the third is a strangling in New York City, and the latest shooting is from Missouri.  This is obviously a national problem.

First up,  an off duty officer killed a teen supposedly shoplifting in a Walmart after seeing a few security guards chase the teen out the door.  Was deadly force really necessary over a smart phone cover? This sounds a lot like the Zimmerman defense if you ask me. This young man was Latino.

A 19-year-old shoplifting suspect in Conroe was shot and killed by an off-duty sergeant who said the teen choked him to the point of nearly passing out, police said.

The Conroe Police Department said officers were dispatched to the Walmart on N. Loop 336 W after store employees tried to stop a young man, Russell Rios, who allegedly stole a pair of iPhone cases early Wednesday evening.

Off-duty police Sgt. Jason Blackwelder was briefed by the workers and chased down the suspect in a wooded area southwest of the store, according to police.

Once in the woods, the suspect and the officer became engaged in a very intense struggle, and at one point the officer was being choked by the suspect, said Sgt. Dorcy Riddle. … to the extent that he thought he was going to lose consciousness.

Blackwelder fired his weapon, striking Rios and killing him. The sergeant was treated for minor injuries at the hospital and later released.

Old Photos of Boston Police (1)This actually was the second shooting involving a Walmart.  This one involved a black teenager examining a Toy Gun.  Now mind you, we had weeks of open carry assholes carrying actual loaded semi-automatic weapons around stores.  Only the shoppers felt threatened by these jerks.  However, those were all white folks toting the real thing so the security guards must’ve have thought it was no big deal.

As it turns out, John Crawford, the man shot dead by police was killed after doing nothing more than picking up a toy gun in the store.

Crawford, 22, was identified, in part by the mother of his child, who he was on the phone with at the time police shot him dead.

That woman, LeeCee Johnson, said Crawford went to the area to visit family members.

“We was just talking. He said he was at the video games playing videos and he went over there by the toy section where the toy guns were. And the next thing I know, he said ‘It’s not real,’ and the police start shooting and they said ‘Get on the ground,’ but he was already on the ground because they had shot him,” she said, adding: “And I could hear him just crying and screaming. I feel like they shot him down like he was not even human.”

Last month, an NYPD office strangled an unarmed black man with an illegal chokehold even while he was telling them he could not breathe.  The IMG_7800edittedincident was videotaped. The police later arrested the videographer and the man’s wife in unrelated charges seemingly to  put their testimony in any court case against the choker into question.

Confronted by police trying to arrest him for allegedly selling illegal cigarettes, Eric Garner raised both hands in the air and, with passive defiance, told the officers not to touch him. Seconds later, a video shows the officer behind him grab the 350-pound man in a chokehold and pull him to the sidewalk, rolling him onto his stomach.

“I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe!” Garner said repeatedly, his cries muffled into the pavement.

The video of the Thursday skirmish shows the Staten Island man lying on the ground motionless after the incident. An asthmatic, Garner was later declared dead at a nearby hospital, according to CNN affiliate WCBS. Police said he suffered a heart attack and died en route to the hospital.

“This is a terrible tragedy that occurred yesterday. A terrible tragedy that no family should have to experience,” said New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, calling the video of the incident “very troubling.”

Police told WCBS that 43-year-old Garner, a father of six, had a lengthy criminal history and had been previously arrested for selling untaxed cigarettes in May.

Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who is seen on video choking Garner, was put on modified assignment and stripped of his shield and gun as the New York Police Department continues to investigate the incident, WCBS reported. The chokehold tactic is prohibited by the NYPD.

The most recent shooting involved an unarmed black teen who was being harassed by the police for not getting on the sidewalk.  This young man was leon_meredithtwo days away from his first year in college.

An unarmed black teenager fatally shot Saturday by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo., had been struggling for the officer’s gun, law enforcement officials said Sunday as hundredLs of protesters gathered outside the police department.

St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said the youth, Michael Brown, 18, allegedly struggled for a Ferguson police officer’s weapon in a patrol car before the officer fired several shots about noon Saturday. Witnesses have said the youth had his hands in the air as he fled the patrol car.

Brown’s mother said she didn’t understand why police didn’t subdue him with a club or Taser.

“I would like to see him fired,” Lesley McSpadden told the Associated Press, referring to the officer who shot her son. “I would like to see him go to jail with the death penalty.”

Belmar said there would be a thorough investigation, with possible inclusion of the FBI. Because Brown is African American, the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People has said it would seek a federal investigation.

katrina-swat-teamIs this part and parcel of the militarization of police happening since 9/11 or is it an outcropping of the rampant, outrageous racism that has been noticeable since the country elected its first black president?  I can remember being in Denver about two years ago during an Occupy march.  I also remember watching tons of riot police in military vehicles rushing around the downtown streets to intercept what was obviously a peaceful gathering of Americans in keeping with our constitutional rights.  But, SWAT raids are commonplace these days.

It’s 3:00 a.m. Your children are screaming and your dog is lying dead in a pool of blood. Scorch marks and shattered glass cover the floor. You’re being held at gunpoint by towering figures wearing black and holding AK-47s.

This isn’t a Hollywood movie set. Odds are this is a predawn SWAT raid targeting a family of color. Mission objective: search the home for a small amount of drugs.

There are an estimated 45,000 SWAT raids every year. That means this sort of violent, paramilitary raid is happening in about 124 homes every day – or more likely every night – not in an overseas combat zone, but here in American neighborhoods. The police, who are supposed to serve and protect communities, are instead waging war on the people who live in them.

Our new report, War at Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing, takes a hard look at 800 of these raids – or at least what state and local law enforcement agencies are willing to tell us about them. We found that almost 80% of SWAT raids are to search homes, usually for drugs, and disproportionately, in communities of color. During these drug searches, at least 10 officers often piled into armored personnel carriers. They forced their way into people’s homes using military equipment like battering rams 60 percent of the time. And they were 14 times more likely to deploy flashbang grenades than during SWAT raids for other purposes.

Public support for the failed War on Drugs is at its lowest ever, and yet police are still using hyper-aggressive tactics and heavy artillery to fight it. This paramilitary approach to everyday policing brutalizes bystanders and ravages homes. We reviewed one case in which a young mother was shot and killed with her infant son in her arms. During another raid, a grandfather of 12 was killed while watching baseball in his pajamas. And we talked with a mother whose toddler was covered in burns, shot through with a hole that exposed his ribs, and placed into a medically induced coma after a flashbang grenade exploded in his crib. None of these people was the suspect. In many cases like these, officers did not find the suspect or any contraband in the home.

Even if they had found contraband, the idea of cops-cum-warriors would still be deeply troubling. Police can – and do – conduct searches and take suspects into custody without incident, without breaking into a home in the middle of the night, and without discharging their weapons. The fact is, very few policing situations actually require a full SWAT deployment or a tank. And simply having drugs in one’s home should not be a high-risk factor used to justify a paramilitary raid.

We can no longer accept such brutal tactics as a routine way to fight the War on Drugs. It’s time for an exit strategy.

All too often, the worst police behavior is aimed at minority communities. images

Jason L. Riley is a Wall Street Journal columnist and vocal critic of what hecalls “race hustlers”—“the second and third-tier types” who lead the civil rights groups of the present.
For him, the greatest barriers to black advancement aren’t economic disadvantage and persistent discrimination, they’re “anti-social behavior” and “counterproductive attitudes toward work, school, marriage, and so forth.”

Last Friday, Riley responded to Al Sharpton’s call for criminal justice reform with this Twitter broadside: “Liberals want to discuss black incarceration rates but not black crime rates,” he said. “Stop pretending the two are unrelated.” The implication is that black criminality is to blame.

There’s no question that relative to their population, black Americans hold adisproportionate share of arrests and convictions for crime. But it’s important we don’t confuse that with a propensity for crime. Put another way, black overrepresentation in crime statistics has as much to do with policing and the legal process as it does with the actual crimes committed.

For millions of black and Latino New Yorkers, the city is a literal police state.

It’s worth noting that just a few hours after Riley made his assertion, the New York City medical examiner ruled Eric Garner’s death a homicide by chokehold. If you haven’t followed the coverage, Garner was killed in July during a struggle with Staten Island police officers. Because a witness (who was later arrested on gun charges) videotaped the encounter, we know that the 43-year-old father of six had just stopped a fight, and was agitated by the police presence. “Every time you see me, you try to mess with me,” he said to the officers, protesting prior treatment. “This stops today.” Within minutes, police had placed Garner in a chokehold and wrestled him to the ground, where he struggled, gasped for air, and died.

Bystanders would catch two other instances of police violence over the next week. In the first, an officer is seen stomping on the head of a man arrested for marijuana possession, and in the second, an officer is shown using a chokehold on a pregnant woman after she grilled food on the sidewalk outside of her home (which, apparently, is against the law in New York City).

The reason for these stops is a policing approach called “broken windows,” first articulated by scholars James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling in a 1982 Atlantic Monthly essay and later adopted by the NYPD in 1993. Broken windows prioritizes cracking down on minor offenses on the theory that doing so can preempt serious crime. Or, to use the metaphor of the idea, actual broken windows create the appearance of disorder, which creates actual disorder as criminals take advantage of the inviting environment. Rather than wait for the serious crimes to begin, police should “repair the windows”—focus on petty crime like loitering, and you’ll stop the worse crime from taking hold.

It’s an elegant concept, but there’s little evidence it works. “Taken together,” notes a 2006 study from the University of Chicago, “the evidence from New York City and from the five-city social experiment provides no support for a simple first-order disorder-crime relationship as hypothesized by Wilson and Kelling nor for the proposition that broken windows policing is the optimal use of scarce law enforcement resources.” Yes, the massive New York crime decline of the 1990s coincided with broken windows policing, but chances are it had more to do with a reversion to the mean (“what goes up, must come down, and what goes up the most, tends to come down the most”) than any new approach.

If broken windows were just a waste of resources, it wouldn’t be a huge concern. But as a policy, broken windows has also had the effect of terrorizing black and Latino New Yorkers.

Perceptions of urban “disorder” are tied tightly to race and have been for more than a century (as detailed in sociologist Khalil Gibran Muhammad’s The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America). As we’ve seen on a regular basis—from Jonathan Ferrell to Renisha McBride—people of color, and blacks in particular, are feared as criminal in ways their white counterparts aren’t.

This is one of the most enlightening quotes I’ve seen for some time. The police union’ associate basically believes that resisting arrest is a reason to use deadly force. This is in regards to Garner’s death outlined above.

The police officer who killed a Staten Island dad with a prohibited chokehold was just doing what he had been trained to do.

So claimed Pat Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, in strident and eyebrow-raising defense Tuesday of NYPD officers, during which he called the medical examiner’s conclusions about Eric Garner’s death “absolutely wrong.”

“It is not a chokehold,” Lynch insisted. “It was bringing a person to the ground the way we’re trained to do to place him under arrest.”

Lynch, who is not a doctor, also said the ME’s office was “mistaken” when it concluded after an autopsy that the 43-year-old Garner’s death was a homicide.

“I’ve never seen a document that was more political than that press release by the ME,” Lynch said. “Chokehold. That’s not a medical term.”

Lynch also ripped Mayor de Blasio for not backing the officers in this case. “The mayor needs to support New York City police officers unequivocally,” he said.

De Blasio defended the ME, calling the office “the gold standard in this country for the work they do.”

Lynch’s remarks appeared to be aimed at taking the heat off Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who was caught on a shocking cellphone video wrapping an arm around Garner’s neck and dragging him to the pavement.

“I can’t breathe!” Garner could be heard yelling. “I can’t breathe!”

That video sparked nationwide outrage and Pantaleo was yanked off the street as the Staten Island prosecutor launched an investigation. Pantaleo has not been charged with a crime.

Lynch said Garner had been stopped a week earlier by police officers for peddling unlicensed cigarettes on the street.

“He was warned to stop the illegal sale and was not placed under arrest but was warned, admonished and sent on his way,” Lynch said.

So Garner knew he was in big trouble when cops caught him selling loosies again, the union president said.

“But the next week he said he wasn’t going to be arrested,” Lynch said.

Flanked by Sergeants Benevolent Association President Ed Mullins, Lynch decried the “insulting and unjustified manner in which police officers are being portrayed by politicians, race baiters, pundits and even our elected officials.”

I’m not sure what exactly the answer is to all of this, but I will say that you cannot ignore the obvious patterns playing out all over the country. The wattsmessage they are sending is Resist and Die.

BuvBYMsIEAARHWMSo, as I write this, I’ve found out that 49 year after the Watts Riots, Ferguson MO–a primarily  black community close to St Louis–has erupted in riots.  That’s the SWAT group patrolling the area outside a Walgreen’s that I’ve juxtaposed to an old photo of Watts.

What started as a peaceful prayer vigil Saturday evening to remember a young man gunned down by police, has escalated into full scale riots and looting in Ferguson, Missouri.

Angry mobs have smashed windows, set fires and looted businesses as a massive showing of police, some wearing riot gear have moved into the area along West Florissant just south of 270.

Police are also responding to reports of shootings throughout the area. At one point, windows of a News 4 live truck were smashed out by the angry crowd.

Raw Video: Exclusive interview with witness of looting in Ferguson

There are reports that police have dispersed the crowd in Ferguson, but the mobs have moved into some neighboring communities.

News video and amateur video from the scene have captured mobs of crowds racing into stores and businesses and then rushing out with armloads of stolen goods.

Tear gas has reportedly been used by police in some areas.

PHOTOS: Computer | Mobile

Two groups of protesters gathered around 8:00 Sunday night in Ferguson to bring awareness to the death of Michael Brown, 18, who was shot and killed by police Saturday.

At least fifteen area police agencies have been called to Ferguson.  Police set up a staging area at West Florissant and Ferguson Road.  Police are also staging at the Plaza at the Boulevard parking lot, where officers are seen putting on riot gear.  Dozens of police vehicles are on scene, from all over St. Louis County, including Chesterfield, Country Club Hills and the Missouri Highway Patrol.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Thursday Reads: the Winter Solstice, the Mayan Calendar, “the Kamikazes,” and More

Newsstand in Copley Square, Boston

Good Morning!!

I have a mix of news links for you this morning, but nothing too terribly depressing. As I told you Tuesday, I’ve got a bit of Christmas overload, plus I’ve had a flu bug for a few days. So lets’ start out on a positive note.

Today at 12:30AM ET was the Winter Solstice, and therefore today is the shortest day of the year. That means in a few weeks, it will get dark in the Boston area around 4:30PM instead of 4:00. Right now, twilight begins about 3:30PM. I am so looking forward to longer days. From the WaPo:

If you pay attention to these things, you’ll notice a lag of a few weeks between the time the sun begins to set later in the day and the time it rises earlier. But the 22nd is, nonetheless, in the northern hemisphere, our shortest day, and the one in which the sun hoists itself the most miserly distance above the horizon. To top it off, the daily rate at which the sun sinks lower in the sky has been slowing, until it stops. Hence the word solstice, which means that the sun “stands still.”

It’s only for a theoretical instant, of course, but it can often seem, during these days of dark and cold, as if life itself has ground to a halt. Gardening can take place in the jewel boxes of our cold frames and greenhouses, but with growth so slow that there is little for you to do. The hibernation practiced by some creatures starts to seem like a great idea, and the southern migration of others a possible plan.

Not surprisingly, the human celebrations held in this season are full of light, whether it’s from Hanukkah candles, bonfires or sparkly tinsel draped over trees. You can almost understand why people light up their lawns with electrified reindeer. The longer the nights and the greater the inactivity they foster, the more we need our spirits lifted.

The LA Times has a story about Wiccan celebrations of the Soltice.

“People are celebrating the solstice more than ever in recent memory,” said Selena Fox, who isn’t just any Wiccan priestess. She’s a psychotherapist and the founder of Wisconsin’s Circle Sanctuary, a nonprofit Wiccan church and, according to its website, a 200-acre nature preserve….

Solstice is “widely celebrated today by Wiccans, druids, heathens and other pagans; by indigenous peoples practicing traditional ways in Africa, Asia, Polynesia, Australia, Europe and the Americas; by environmentalists and astronomers; by secular humanists and Freethinkers; by eco-Christians and those of other religions and philosophies,” Fox told The Times in an interview Wednesday….

Humankind has been “observing solstices for thousands of years,” Fox said, but the celestial events have become even more of the moment. Why? Because this is an “age of climate change and a need to have sustainability on the planet,” she said, so it makes sense that a holiday that has “connecting with the cycles of nature” at its core would become popular.

And of course that is why the mythic birth of Jesus was set on December 25, to symbolize rebirth and light coming back to the world. In pagan terms, the birth of the new sun. Here’s a video of the Solstice celebration at Stonehenge in 2009.

One year from now, the 2012 Winter Solstice will mark the end of the Mayan calendar, and we’ll probably have to deal with all kinds of apocalyptic prediction about what is going to happen next. NASA has a page debunking the idea that the end of the world is coming on December 22, 2012. Of course the maniacs in Washington DC might do something that would cause the end of the world as we know it. Let’s hope not.

Yesterday, Dakinikat had a post on John Boehner’s payroll tax fiasco. First Boehner said the House would agree to a 2-month extension of the payroll tax holiday and unemployment benefits, as passed by the Senate. Then suddenly Boehner announced that Republicans wouldn’t vote for the compromise bill–now they wanted a year’s extension or nothing. WTF?!

At the Daily Beast, Patricia Murphy claims to provide the inside story on what happened.

What happened between Boehner’s agreement to follow the Senate’s lead and his tacit admission that his own caucus had overruled him? Aides and House members describe a now-infamous caucus conference call Saturday morning, when rank-and-file members blasted the Boehner-blessed deal, which they felt gave in on too many of their demands and delivered too little in return.

A closed door meeting Monday night revealed more doubts from conservatives over whether Boehner had pushed for the best deal they could have gotten and fueled Democratic frustration that Boehner, who they believe negotiated in good faith, simply cannot speak for his caucus anymore. The debacle capped a tumultuous year for the speaker, reigniting questions about how much longer he can lead the unwieldy GOP coalition, many of whose members clearly have no interest in following him where he wants to go.

Publicly, Boehner and House Republicans presented a united front this week, blaming President Obama for shortening a tax cut they say they have wanted to pass all along. But Democrats blamed a group of Republicans they’ve dubbed “the kamikazes,” the GOP freshmen who arrived in January on a wave of Tea Party anger and have shown time and again that they are willing to blow up their careers and everything around them in service to their cause.

The kamikazes’ casualty list this year is long. They blew up the debt-ceiling vote this summer, sparking a downgrade in the nation’s credit rating. They blew up the appropriations process so thoroughly that routine spending votes morphed into philosophical standoffs that nearly locked down the federal government three times and required seven temporary funding patches just to keep the lights on. And this week, they managed to blow up not just a tax cut that nearly everyone in Washington agrees is a good idea, but also their party’s hard-earned reputation for cutting taxes and, quite possibly, their chances at a long-term majority in the House and future control of the Senate.

Talk about self-immolation! In the meantime, questions are being asked about Boehner’s leadership.

At ABC’s The Note, Jonathan Karl is predicting the Republicans will fold. We’ll see. President Obama is really good at finding ways to give in to the Congressional terrorists. Maybe someone can distract him long enough to let this play out without his intervention.

Also at the the Daily Beast, there’s a creepy, yet semi-humorous story about local cops being militarized by the Department of Homeland Security, this time in my birthplace, the quiet little city of Fargo, North Dakota.

Nestled amid plains so flat the locals joke you can watch your dog run away for miles, Fargo treasures its placid lifestyle, seldom pierced by the mayhem and violence common in other urban communities. North Dakota’s largest city has averaged fewer than two homicides a year since 2005, and there’s not been a single international terrorism prosecution in the last decade.

But that hasn’t stopped authorities in Fargo and its surrounding county from going on an $8 million buying spree to arm police officers with the sort of gear once reserved only for soldiers fighting foreign wars.

Every city squad car is equipped today with a military-style assault rifle, and officers can don Kevlar helmets able to withstand incoming fire from battlefield-grade ammunition. And for that epic confrontation—if it ever occurs—officers can now summon a new $256,643 armored truck, complete with a rotating turret. For now, though, the menacing truck is used mostly for training and appearances at the annual city picnic, where it’s been parked near the children’s bounce house.

“Most people are so fascinated by it, because nothing happens here,” says Carol Archbold, a Fargo resident and criminal justice professor at North Dakota State University. “There’s no terrorism here.”

Read it and weep. If Fargo has that much military hardware, imagine what they’ve got in NYC, Chicago, and LA! Police State Amerika is here.

At the NYT, Charlie Savage reports on the Justice Department settlement with Bank of America over discrimination in mortgage lending by Countrywide.

The Justice Department on Wednesday announced the largest residential fair-lending settlement in history, saying that Bank of America had agreed to pay $335 million to settle allegations that its Countrywide Financial unit discriminated against black and Hispanic borrowers during the housing boom.

A department investigation concluded that Countrywide loan officers and brokers charged higher fees and rates to more than 200,000 minority borrowers across the country than to white borrowers who posed the same credit risk. Countrywide also steered more than 10,000 minority borrowers into costly subprime mortgages when white borrowers with similar credit profiles received regular loans, it found.

Now how about putting some banksters in jail for bringing down the economy? Not holding my breath, but at least BOA has to cough up some bucks.

Newt Gingrich has been accused of illegally profiting from his presidential campaign.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich became the target on Monday of a Federal Election Commission (FEC) complaint filed by the non-profit watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which accused the Georgia Republican of illegally profiting off his campaign.

The complaint is based on a revelation by The Washington Post‘s Dan Eggen, who discovered that Gingrich had personally sold a mailing list to his campaign and profited to the tune of $47,005, then failed to report the transaction on a key FEC document. That’s count one, according to CREW.

That mailing list did not belong to Gingrich personally, CREW said. It instead belonged to Gingrich Productions, Inc., a private business that sells Gingrich’s books. Since he paid himself instead of Gingrich Productions, CREW alleged that a second count of using campaign money for personal expenses is called for as well. The treasurer who signed off on the deal is also accused of violating campaign finance laws.

CREW explained in their complaint (PDF) that Gingrich Productions often stages events at the same time as Newt 2012, Inc., his non-profit group and principal campaign committee, which could constitute improper corporate contributions to a political campaign in that the campaign directly benefits from Gingrich Productions’ events.

It goes on to note that the mailing list Gingrich moved from his book company to his campaign was actually a list of people who were waiting at Gingrich events to have their books signed, showing even further how Gingrich Productions and Newt 2012 work in tandem to help each other.

Whoopsie! Everybody’s out to get Newt these days. I’d love to see him end up in jail along with some banksters, but again–not holding my breath.

As you’ve all heard, Ron Paul stalked off the set of an interview at CNN yesterday after he was asked about some racist passages in newsletters he published years ago. But USA today has caught Paul in a serious contradiction about those writings.

Rep. Ron Paul has tried since 2001 to disavow racist and incendiary language published in Texas newsletters that bore his name, denying he wrote them and even walking out of an interview on CNN Wednesday. But he vouched for the accuracy of the writings and admitted writing at least some of the passages when first asked about them in an interview in 1996.

Some issues of the newsletters included racist, anti-Israel or anti-gay comments, including a 1992 newsletter in which he said 95% of black men in Washington “are semi-criminal or entirely criminal.”

Paul told TheDallas Morning News in 1996 that the contents of his newsletters were accurate but needed to be taken in context. Wednesday, he told CNN he didn’t write the newsletters and didn’t know what was in them.

Hmmmm…. I guess Mitt Romney isn’t the only flip-flopper in the Republican presidential race.

Speaking of Romney, that guy has really gone off the deep end in his efforts to court Iowa Tea Party voters. Steve Benen suggests that Romney has “lost his mind.”

Mitt Romney unveiled a brand-new stump speech in New Hampshire last night, reading a carefully-crafted, poll-tested text from two teleprompters. Confident that his Republican primarily rivals simply won’t (or can’t) catch him, the former one-term governor ignored the other GOP candidates in his speech, and focused exclusively on attacking President Obama.

Wow! Two telepromters? Now why does that sound familiar? Anyway, the point is that Romney has been reduced to following the Tea Party meme that Obama is a commie socialist. From the speech:

“Just a couple of weeks ago in Kansas, President Obama lectured us about Teddy Roosevelt’s philosophy of government. But he failed to mention the important difference between Teddy Roosevelt and Barack Obama. Roosevelt believed that government should level the playing field to create equal opportunities. President Obama believes that government should create equal outcomes.

“In an entitlement society, everyone receives the same or similar rewards, regardless of education, effort, and willingness to take risk. That which is earned by some is redistributed to the others. And the only people who truly enjoy any real rewards are those who do the redistributing — the government.

“The truth is that everyone may get the same rewards, but virtually everyone will be worse off.”

ROFLOL! Benen writes:

It stands to reason that Romney, who’s completed the transition from “progressive” views to far-right hysterics, would present a worldview different from the center-left president’s. But this speech was written in a twisted fantasy land, and it ascribes views to Obama that are simply made up. It’s just madness.

And get this: Romney wants Obama’s uncle deported!

ABC News’ Michael Falcone reports:

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney told a Boston talk radio host on Wednesday that he supports the deportation of President Obama’s Kenyan-born uncle who was arrested this fall on drunken driving charges in Massachusetts.

When asked by Boston radio personality Howie Carr whether the president’s relative, Onyango Obama, should be deported, Romney said, “the answer is ‘yes.’”

“Well, if the laws of the United States say he should be deported, and I presume they do, then of course we should follow those laws,” Romney said. “And the answer is ‘yes.’”

And last week, Romney told Sean Hannity that Obama is deliberately and knowingly hurting America for political reasons.

Hannity: The president has been using class warfare as we know. He says Republicans want dirty air, dirty water. Says Republicans want old people, kids with autism and Down’s syndrome to fend for themselves. Pretty outrageous charges.

Romney: Shameful. It’s really shameful.

Hannity: Explain, and how do you counter that if you get this nomination?

Romney: You know, I think the president has gone from being a failed presidency, a guy over his head, to someone who is now so desperate to get re-election that he’s doing things that are very much counter to the interest of the country and he knows it. In the past I think he was just misguided. Now I think he really knows that his decision in Afghanistan to pull the troops out a couple of months earlier than commanders suggested. That was not a wise, not a wise thing for the country. The Keystone pipeline, he knows we need that oil, he knows the consequences.

If Romney is this nuts now, imagine what he’ll be like in the thick of the primaries. Folks, Romney is not the “reasonable” candidate. There is no reasonable candidate on the Republican side. It’s going to be a completely insane candidate vs. a fascist pretending to be a Democrat. Followed by the end of the Mayan calendar. If we’re lucky, the world will end before the next president is inaugurated. Just kidding, I think.

I’ll end with this embarrassing for him, amusing for us, bit of gossip about Wisconsin Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner.

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.), known for his cantankerous ways and for not speaking to media unless it’s his idea, was overheard at the Delta Crown lounge at Reagan National Airport today talking on his cellphone about an incident he said occurred three weeks ago while at an Episcopal church auction. Please note, a church auction.

Our source, a Democratic operative who heard the whole thing, said he was “very loud”. Sensenbrenner was overheard saying that after buying all their “crap” (his word) a woman approached him and praised first lady Michelle Obama. He told the woman that Michelle should practice what she preaches — “she lectures us on eating right while she has a large posterior herself.”

The operative said it sounded like he was on the phone with a staffer who was telling him that someone in the media would likely write about his comments (concerning something) to which he said it was heresy and just liberal media bias to print gossip. But “he stands by his remarks.”

Sensenbrenner is on the pudgy side. Someone should tell him that people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

That’s all I’ve got for you today. What are you reading and blogging about?


Saturday Night in Police State Amerika

I know most of you have seen this video or one like it from UC Davis yesterday. This is the most shocking version I’ve seen so far:

For the past couple of months, we’ve been watching Occupy Wall Street grow from a few thousand protesters in New York City to hundreds of thousands of protesters in cities and towns all over this country. One interesting side effect of the Occupy movement is that the militarization of police forces since 9/11 has been put on full display. Police departments have reacted to peaceful protesters as if they were dangerous terrorists. All those billions poured into “homeland security” have created a monster. And now we can see it plainly. We live in a police state.

Earlier this week, Digby wrote an excellent piece on how this happened: Militarizing the Police: How the Drug War and 9/11 Led to Battle-Dressed Cops Cracking Down on Peaceful Protests. Basically, she wrote, if you build it…it will be used.

The US has actually been militarising much of its police agencies for the better part of three decades, mostly in the name of the drug war. But 9/11 put that programme on steroids.

Recall that six short weeks after the September 11 terrorist attacks, the US congress passed the PATRIOT Act, a sweeping expansion of domestic and foreign intelligence-gathering capabilities. This

legislation gave the government the ability to easily search all forms of communication, eased restrictions on foreign intelligence-gathering at home, gave itself greater power to monitor financial transactions and created entirely new categories of domestic terrorism to which the PATRIOT Act’s expanded powers to police could be applied.

It was one of the greatest expansions of government police power in history, an expansion which, after some tweaking, has been mostly validated by the congress and reaffirmed by the courts.

I already linked to her article in one of my morning posts, but if you haven’t had a chance to read it yet, please do.

The American ruling class has become more and more powerful and less and less accountable to the rest of us. For a long time I’ve thought that our best hope is that they will become so arrogant and drunk with power that they overreach and reveal the truth–we are no longer free and the goal is to turn us all into cowering serfs.

So far the iron fist has mostly been concealed under a velvet glove, but now we are seeing the price we’ll pay if we demand our rights and freedoms back. I salute the protesters–young, old, and in-between for the courage they are showing in putting their bodies on the line.

As our President blithely gallivants around the world and our “representatives” fight over the spoils in Washington, we are beginning to see clearly the structure that Bush built and Obama has accepted–a domestic military force to protect the elites from the people whose homes and jobs and retirement savings they have stolen. A police state.

I fear if the push for austerity and the inaction on jobs continues, we are going to see riots in the streets that will make 1968 look tame in comparison. There a so many of us in the 99%. They can’t jail or kill all of us. Fortunately they are making the stupid mistake of showing us what is going to happen to anyone who resists. The more violence and cruelty they display, the angrier many Americans will get and the more backlash there will be.

Americans don’t like to be pushed around. Somewhere deep inside of each of us is a burning desire for freedom and the willingness to fight for it. In the end we will win, but it won’t be easy. We need to stick together.