Daily Archive: 11/25/2014

Nov 25 2014

Ferguson: A Democracy Now Special Report

Black Lives Matter: Ferguson Erupts After Grand Jury Clears Officer in Michael Brown Killing

“It is Officially Open Season on Black Folks”: Legal Expert Decries Handling of Wilson Grand Jury

Riot as the Language of the Unheard: Ferguson Protests Set to Continue In Fight For Racial Justice

With A The Real News Bonus

“Democracy on Fire”: Protestors Respond to Grand Jury’s Failure to Indict Mike Brown’s Killer

Nov 25 2014

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Trevor Timm: Obama’s new leader at the Pentagon will mean more war – not less

Chuck Hagel is out, and no matter who replaces him, we know this much about the state of Obama’s administration: it’s still addicted to secret war

After yet another weekend of news that the administration is expanding its war footing in the Middle East in secret, the White House yet again is exercising its power to avoid talking about what should be on the tip of the tongue of everyone: How are more troops going to solve a problem that 13 years of war have only made worse?

With Hagel’s resignation, hardly anyone is talking about the alarming story published Friday night by the New York Times, reporting that President Obama has ordered – in secret – that troops continue the Afghanistan War at least through 2015 … after announcing to the public months ago that combat operations would stop at the end of this year. Obama made his “This year we will bring America’s longest war to a responsible end” statement in the White House Rose Garden, on television, six months ago. The extension of the Afghan war was reportedly executed by a classified order.

Meanwhile, Obama was up there smiling next to Hagel on Monday, talking about how “reluctant” he is to see him go. The American president, like the one before him, is apparently reluctant to be upfront with the public about war.

Dean Baker: Seven Years After: Why This Recovery Is Still a Turkey

December will mark the seventh anniversary of the beginning of the recession brought on by the collapse of the housing bubble. Usually an economy would be fully recovered from the impact of a recession seven years after its onset. Unfortunately, this is not close to being the case now.

It would still take another 7 to 8 million jobs to bring the percentage of the population employed back to its pre-recession level. The 5.8 percent unemployment rate (compared to 4.5 percent before the recession) doesn’t reflect the true weakness of the labor force since so many people have dropped out of the labor force. Furthermore, more than 7 million people are working part-time who would like full-time jobs. This is an increase of almost 3 million from the pre-recession level. [..]

Our economic problems are manageable, but they require some serious thought. Unfortunately economic policymaking continues to be dominated by people who were unable to see an $8 trillion housing bubble. There is no reason to believe that these people have a better understanding of the economy today than they did seven years ago.

Robert Kuttner: Wall Street Leading Washington Yet Again: What Was Obama Thinking?

If you want to understand what makes Elizabeth Warren so special in American politics, consider her nervy leadership of the campaign to block President Obama’s foolish nomination of one Antonio Weiss to be the top Treasury official in charge of the domestic financial system, including enforcement of the Dodd-Frank Act.

For most of his Wall Street career, Weiss has epitomized everything that reeks about financial abuses. As chief of international mergers and acquisitions for Lazard, Weiss orchestrated what are delicately known as “corporate inversions,” in which a domestic corporation moves its nominal headquarters offshore, to avoid its U.S. taxes. It’s hard to improve on Sen. Warren’s description of this play, in her Huffington Post blog of last Wednesday: [..]

And that’s only the beginning. Many of the other deals orchestrated by Weiss resulted in operating companies being bought and sold by giant conglomerates, where the “savings” and “increased efficiency” came mainly from tax breaks and reduced worker compensation.

Weiss, who was paid $15.4 million by Lazard over the past 23 months, will receive another $21.2 million as an early retirement payment if he is confirmed for the Treasury job.

Robert Reich: Why College Is Necessary But Gets You Nowhere

This is the time of year when high school seniors apply to college, and when I get lots of mail about whether college is worth the cost.

The answer is unequivocally yes, but with one big qualification. I’ll come to the qualification in a moment but first the financial case for why it’s worth going to college.

Put simply, people with college degrees continue to earn far more than people without them. And that college “premium” keeps rising.

Last year, Americans with four-year college degrees earned on average 98 percent more per hour than people without college degrees. [..]

But here’s the qualification, and it’s a big one.

A college degree no longer guarantees a good job. The main reason it pays better than the job of someone without a degree is the latter’s wages are dropping.

In fact, it’s likely that new college graduates will spend some years in jobs for which they’re overqualified.

Michael W. Twitty: Americans love the Thanksgiving myth. But food folklore masks a painful reality

None of our culinary traditions were really just shared or contributed – and they certainly were not ‘gifted to us’

Americans love our origin myths – like the comforting one that, before the conflicts, wars and slavery started, there was an idyllic moment in which the “Pilgrims” and their indigenous welcoming committee sat down in a peaceful potluck of multicultural exchange, each contributing something old to the new.

But Thanksgiving is hardly the only celebration of the idea of culinary “contribution” – there’s a similar narrative about the plantation South, where African foods appear in the culinary narrative, as though they were proffered to white Americans through an altruistic cultural exchange program.

The superstar Southern chef, Sean Brock, even recently described the presence of the West African rice in lowcountry Carolina foods as “gifted to us”, without ever asking who “us” is. [..]

But let’s be clear: none of our culinary traditions were ever really just shared or contributed – and they certainly weren’t “gifted”. That latter term is especially galling, since my ancestors in the Carolina lowcountry were coerced through forced labor and with the threat of physical punishment to provide every iota of value from their expertise in rice culture and cuisine to their white owners; it was hardly a gift.

Nov 25 2014

The Breakfast Club (Every Way You Look at This You Lose)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover  we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

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This Day in History

President John F. Kennedy laid to rest at Arlington; New details emerge about Iran-Contra affair; British forces leave New York; Elian Gonzalez rescued off Florida coast; Baseball’s Joe DiMaggio born.

Breakfast Tunes

Nov 25 2014

On This Day In History November 25

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

November 25 is the 329th day of the year (330th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 36 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1999, The United Nations General Assembly passes a resolution designating November 25 the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. The resolution, which was introduced by the Dominican Republic, marked the anniversary of the death of three sisters, Maria, Teresa, and Minerva Mirabel, who were brutally murdered there in 1960. While women in Latin America and the Caribbean had honored the day since 1981, all UN countries did not formally recognize it until 1999.

Many organizations, including the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), had been pushing for international recognition of the date for some time.

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

The Mirabal sisters were four Dominican political dissidents who opposed the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo. Three of the sisters were assassinated by persons unknown.

Patria Mercedes Mirabal (February 27, 1924 – November 25, 1960), Belgica Adela “Dede” Mirabal-Reyes (March 1, 1925 – present), Maria Argentina Minerva Mirabal (March 12, 1926 – November 25, 1960) and Antonia Maria Teresa Mirabal (October 15, 1935 – November 25, 1960) were citizens of the Dominican Republic who fervently opposed the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo. Dede Mirabal was not assassinated and has lived to tell the stories of the death of her sisters. Presently, she lives in Salcedo, Dominican Republic in the house where the sisters were born. She works to preserve her sisters’ memory through the Museo Hermanas Mirabal which is also located in Salcedo and was home to the women for the final ten months of their lives. She published a book Vivas en El Jardin, released on August 25, 2009.

The Mirabal women grew up in an upper class, well-cultured environment. Their father was a successful businessman. All became married family women. When Trujillo came to power, their family lost almost all its fortune. They believed that Trujillo would send their country into economic chaos. Minerva became particularly passionate about ending the dictatorship of Trujillo after talking extensively with an uncle of hers. Influenced by her uncle, Minerva became more involved in the anti-Trujillo movement. She studied law and became a lawyer, but because she declined Trujillo’s romantic advances, he ordered that while she would be issued a degree she was not to receive her practitioner’s license. Her sisters followed suit, and they eventually formed a group of opponents to the Trujillo regime, known as the Movement of the Fourteenth of June. Within that group, they were known as “The Butterflies” (Las Mariposas in Spanish) because that was the underground name that Minerva was given. Two of the sisters, Maria Argentina Minerva Mirabal and Antonia Maria Teresa Mirabal, were incarcerated and tortured on several occasions. While in prison they were repeatedly raped. Three of the sisters’ husbands were incarcerated at La Victoria Penitentiary in Santo Domingo.

Despite these setbacks, they persisted in fighting to end Trujillo’s leadership. After the sisters’ numerous imprisonments, Trujillo was blamed for their murders, but this is now being questioned. During an interview after Trujillo’s assasination, General Pupo Roman claimed to have personal knowledge that they were killed by Luis Amiama Tio, perhaps to create a rise in anti-Trujillo sentiment. On November 25, 1960, he sent men to intercept the three women after they visited their husbands in prison. The unarmed sisters were led into a sugar cane field and executed, they didn’t even have the luxury of being shot, instead they were beaten to death, along with their driver, Rufino de la Cruz. Their car was later thrown off of a mountain known as La Cumbre, between the cities of Santiago and Puerto Plata, in order to make their deaths look like an accident.

This day also marks the beginning of the 16 days of Activism against Gender Violence. The end of the 16 Days is December 10, International Human Rights Day.

Nov 25 2014

No Surprise At All

Killings by Utah police outpacing gang, drug, child-abuse homicides

By ERIN ALBERTY, The Salt Lake Tribune

Nov 24 2014 09:30 am

Over a five-year period, data show that fatal shootings by police officers in Utah ranked second only to homicides of intimate partners.

In the past five years, more Utahns have been killed by police than by gang members.

Or drug dealers. Or from child abuse.

And so far this year, deadly force by police has claimed more lives – 13, including a Saturday shooting in South Jordan – than has violence between spouses and dating partners.

As the tally of fatal police shootings rises, law enforcement watchdogs say it is time to treat deadly force as a potentially serious public safety problem.

Dead Of Night: The Ferguson Decision

By Charles P. Pierce, Esquire

November 24, 2014

There is something gone badly wrong in the way police are taught to look at civilians these days. This is the logic of an occupying power being employed on American citizens. Ever since 9/11, when we all began to be told that we were going to have to bend a little bit, and then a little bit more, to authority or else we’d all die, the police in this country have been militarized in their tactics and in their equipment, which is bad enough, but in their attitudes and their mentality, which is far, far worse. Suspicion has bled into weaponized paranoia, especially in the case of black and brown people, especially in the case of young men who are black or brown, but this is not About Race because nothing ever is About Race. Even the potential of a threat requires a deadly response, Dick Cheney’s one-percent idea brought to American cities and towns until Salt Lake City, of all places, winds up with cops who are deadlier on the streets than drug dealers. This is how you wind up with Darren Wilson. This is how you wind up with Michael Brown, dead in the middle of the road. This is how Darren Wilson walks, tonight, for the killing of Michael Brown. This is how you end up with an American horror story.