Daily Archive: 12/08/2014

Dec 08 2014

The United Police States of America

If you don’t think you aren’t living in one, you aren’t paying attention.

Shot in the chest by Cleveland police – then handcuffed and fined $100

John Swaine, The Guardian

Last year, Gregory Love was shot by a police officer through the window of his Range Rover. The only person prosecuted was Love himself – but now he’s suing a Cleveland force ordered by the government to change its ways

When a man pointing a Glock pistol approached Gregory Love’s car in downtown Cleveland late one night, Love did the only sensible thing possible, he says: he put up his hands and decided to let the man have what he wanted.

But Vincent Montague shot him in the chest anyway, according to Love, before having the 29-year-old forcibly removed from his silver Range Rover and his hands fastened together behind his back.

Blood from the bullet wound seeped through Love’s white T-shirt. He grew colder, despite the warm June air. “I actually thought I was going to die,” Love told the Guardian. “I felt faint. I saw blood coming from my chest. I thought he was just going to kill me right there.”

Eighteen months later, Love recalls his alleged assailant clearly: he was wearing the uniform of the Cleveland Division of Police. The only person prosecuted following the altercation was Love, who was fined $100 for a traffic violation. Montague was suspended from work for a day.

‘Chaotic and dangerous’ Cleveland police shamed in withering government report

Paul Lewis, The Guardian

Cleveland force accused of using excessive and unreasonable force in hundreds of cases as DoJ appoint independent monitor to oversee reforms

The Cleveland police department under fire over the recent fatal shooting of a 12-year-old boy has engaged in “excessive and unreasonable force” in hundreds of other cases, according to a withering report by the Justice Department that lists examples of officers firing at people who pose no threat and striking them on the head with their weapons.

The cases documented in the report include that of a semi-naked hostage victim who was twice fired at by a police sergeant as he tried to escape his captors, and a 13-year-old who was repeatedly punched in the face while handcuffed in the back of a police car.

Another incident involved a man shot with a Taser while he was was strapped to an ambulance gurney after suffering from seizures. [..]

The report reviewed almost 600 incidents of use of force by Cleveland division of police over three years up to 2013. It detailed incidents of Cleveland police “firing their guns at people who do not pose an immediate threat of death or serious bodily injury” and “hitting people on the head with their guns in circumstances where deadly force is not justified”.

The Justice Department said there were several incidents in which Cleveland police fired at suspects fleeing on foot or in vehicles when they who posed no danger to the officers or anyone else.

No Charges For Cop Who Broke Face Of Handcuffed Woman In Patrol Car

Ahiza Garcia, TPM Livewire

A local prosecutor announced on Friday he would not seek criminal charges against a Seattle police officer who was shown on video throwing a bone-breaking punch at a woman who was handcuffed in the back of a patrol car.

King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg (pictured above), whose office handles felony cases in the area, said he would not seek a felony charge against officer Adley Shepherd, 38, according to the Seattle Times newspaper. [..]

Despite the prosecutor’s decision on Friday, the case is set to be reviewed by the U.S. Justice Department for any possible civil rights violations, according to the Times.

St. Louis Police Pursue Assault Charge Against Youngest Member Of Ferguson Commission

Ryan J. Reilly, Huffington Post

The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department this week convinced the local prosecutor’s office to charge a prominent young Ferguson protester with misdemeanor assault because he allegedly made fleeting physical contact with a law enforcement official blocking access to St. Louis City Hall during a demonstration last month.

Rasheen Aldridge, a 20-year-old community activist, has been protesting in and around the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson on a regular basis ever since then-police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown on Aug. 9. Last month, Gov. Jay Nixon (D) named him to the Ferguson Commission, a task force intended to address problems in the St. Louis region that were highlighted in the wake of Brown’s death. On Dec. 1, Aldridge was at the White House to meet with President Barack Obama to discuss the relationship between law enforcement and local communities. (He later said he left the meeting “disappointed” with Obama, whom he used to consider his “idol.”) [..]

One video of the alleged misdemeanor assault appears to show Aldridge, in a gray cap, attempting to gain access to St. Louis City Hall along with a number of other demonstrators on Nov. 26, less than 48 hours after the grand jury decision was announced. At the time, the public building was on lockdown because authorities thought someone in the crowd may have had spray paint.

Aldridge — who is just 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighs 110 pounds, according to court documents — seems to be trying to open a City Hall door as a much larger city marshal stands guard. The marshal then appears to shove Aldridge, and the protester’s hand touches and perhaps pushes the official.

Soon after the incident, police in riot gear wielding pepper spray would break up the demonstration around City Hall, claiming that the entire daytime assembly was unlawful because a few demonstrators “made contact” with law enforcement.

And if you think the the special task force created by President Barack Obama is anything but another farce, take a look at the history of Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey who Obama has selected to co-chair the committee

Obama Appoints Notoriously Corrupt Police Commissioner To Improve Cops’ Credibility

By Carey Wedler, AntiMedia

The task force has 90 days to prepare a report and recommendations for the “21st century” problems of policing. But if Obama’s appointment to the task force cannot curb corruption and excessive violence within his own department, it is unlikely he will inspire change at the national level.

This week, President Barack Obama unveiled his plan to deal with police brutality and militarization (which he helped to enable over the course of his presidency). He has ordered $263 million for 50,000 body cameras and called for restrictions and oversight on military equipment.

Though on its face the plan has good intentions, it has already been criticized by activists and the media.

One of the most disingenuous elements of Obama’s master plan is his appointment of Philadelphia Police Commissioner, Charles Ramsey, to chair the “Task Force on 21st Cenutry Policing.” Ramsey is co-chairing the task force with Laurie Robinson, a former assistant attorney general and professor at George Mason University. The force is allegedly responsible for restoring trust and good relations between police officers and communities. [//]

While body cameras and restrictions on military equipment are easy to spin as positive (though the practice of militarization will not be stopped, only “curbed”), it is not as easy to fake credibility for Ramsey. The officer, who is also the president of the Major Cities Chiefs Police Association, runs one of the most corrupt police departments in the nation.

He was once the police chief of Washington, D.C. and has presided over Philadelphia’s department since 2008. Ramsey worked for the Chicago police department for thirty years and is currently a member of the “United States Homeland Security Advisory Council.”

On his watch, a federal investigation into corruption was launched over conspiracy, robbery, extortion, kidnapping and drug dealing. The Philadelphia police were caught ignoring thousands of rape cases to keep their crime numbers low. Before marijuana was decriminalized, Philly police arrested African-Americans for marijuana at an even higher rate than the rest of the country (which is already grossly high). Even after a decriminalization bill was passed this June, Ramsey vowed to continue arrests pursuant to Pennsylvania law. Other cops stole half a million dollars of drug money from suspects.

Philadelphia police are also no strangers to harassment and murder on the job, which is what Obama allegedly seeks to diminish in appointing Ramsey. Ramsey’s cops threaten to beat teenagers. They actually beat all kinds of people – over and over and over. They also indulge in shootings, which occur all too often and shirk accountability.

Most telling, during the initial waves of protest in Ferguson this summer, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar sought frequent advice from Ramsey on how to handle the situation.

Could Obama have found anyone worse?  

Dec 08 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: If Eric Garner’s killer can’t be indicted, what cop possibly could? It’s time to fix grand juries

Grand juries were designed to be a check on prosecutors and law enforcement. Instead, they’ve become a corrupt shield to protect those with power and another sword to strike down those without. And it’s now all too obviously past time the system was overhauled to fix that.

Before Wednesday’s shameful decision by a New York grand jury to refuse to indict the police officer who choked to death an unarmed and unresisting Eric Garner, one statistic made clear just how much our justice system has failed:

Charles Clymer

Grand juries not resulting in indictments: Police Officers: 80 of 81 Civilians: 11 of 162,000

#Ferguson

http://fivethirtyeight.com/dat…

If you are an ordinary citizen being investigated for a crime by an American grand jury, there is a 99.993% chance you’ll be indicted. Yet if you’re a police officer, that chance falls to effectively nil.

While the Michael Brown tragedy in Ferguson elevated the harsh reality of grand juries to the global stage, no case has driven it home more than Garner’s. A victim who was unarmed and did not resist. A forbidden chokehold according to NYPD rules. Ruled a homicide by the medical examiner who performed the autopsy. And it was all caught on crystal-clear video.

Marcy Wheeler: The Government’s Flawed Single-Source Theory of Investigative Journalism

As reported by ExposeFacts last month, former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling wants to show that several of the key witnesses against him (including his superior at CIA) have themselves mishandled classified information. A government filing (pdf) released last month provides more details about Sterling’s claims, revealing that four witnesses who were cleared into the Merlin Program revealed in James Risen’s book have mishandled classified information, taking documents home improperly.

The government’s argument explaining why that doesn’t hurt its case is rather revealing. It explains that, because the four other people who had access to Merlin did not share all of a series of traits ascribed to Sterling by the government, they “did not face the same sort of scrutiny” as Sterling. [..]

This reveals what should be a weakness in the government’s case. Because (it claims) it has no communications records showing these others speaking with Risen, they must not have, as if a journalist who had covered the CIA for years could not manage a secret conversation with a source. Because (it claims) the others were not both case officers at a meeting in San Francisco who had had a falling out with the CIA, they were not “suspected of having disclosed classified information to Risen.

Dave Johnson: Why Would Congress Approve A Trade Deal Before Reading It?

The Obama administration is negotiating a huge trade deal. The President promises CEOs he will go against his own party to push its passage. To get this done the corporations are pushing Congress to pass something called Fast Track – a process that essentially pre-approves trade agreements before Congress even reads the agreements for the first time.

President Obama visited the quarterly meeting of the Business Roundtable Wednesday and told the business leaders he will push Congress to pass the massive Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The path to passage for TPP is Congress approving the Fast Track process ahead of time, and the President is working to get Fast Track approved over Democratic objections.

Richard (RJ) Eskow: The Unseen Heart of the Violence: Eric Garner at the Terminal Point

Death, like life, occurs within an interconnected web of forces. Eric Garner died at a specific place and time, but he was drawn there by those larger unseen forces. So was the officer who took his life.

One of them never left.

The neighborhood where Eric Garner died was near the terminal point for the Staten Island Ferry, which leaves lower Manhattan from a newly-built building on Whitehall Street.

The Whitehall building is a few minutes’ walk from Wall Street, and it shows. Commuters leaving at the end of a downtown workday enter a gleaming and futuristic edifice of steel and glass, a 21st landmark which evokes the preceding century’s enduring faith in the future. [..]

The terminal station on Staten Island is considerably more modest. A small building stands alone against the dock, wedged between a large parking lot and inland waters which are often covered with small whitecaps. The address is 1 Bay Street. The spot where Eric Garner died is just a few minutes’ walk from the ferry terminus, at 202 Bay Street.

Pilgrims would feel less welcome there.

Jim Hightower: Operation Endless War: How Long Must US Troops Stay in Afghanistan?

Only a few months ago, President Barack Obama announced the good news that our combat role in Afghanistan – the longest war in U.S. history – would finally end by New Year’s Day.

Put away that champagne.

A flock of screeching war hawks brought heavy political pressure on Obama to reverse himself. So our troops will stay in that war-ravaged, corrupt, bankrupted, ethnically divided country for at least another year or two.

Amazingly, the hawks argued that Obama shouldn’t “rush” the timeline for training Afghan security forces to defend their own country.

Rush? Hello: IT’S BEEN 13 YEARS!

“Operation Enduring Freedom,” as the government originally dubbed this mess of a military mission, should be renamed “Operation Endless War.”

Glen Sherer: Our Rivers in Trouble

Granville Beach was a secluded swimming hole on a snaky bend of the White River, the ideal place to meet Vermont neighbors on a hot summer day before 2011’s Hurricane Irene. Now, the sandy shore, deep waters overhung with box elders, streamside wildflowers, and the lively buzz of riparian birds and dragonflies are gone. [..]

America’s rivers are changing, and not for the good. Their flows are being altered by global warming’s wildly erratic precipitation shifts: torrential rains, floods and drought.

As climate models predicted decades ago, places that once got lots of rain, now often get more. Since the 1950’s, Northeastern downpours have grown 74 percent heavier. They’re 45 percent heavier in the Midwest, 26 percent heavier in the Southeast, and 21 percent on the Great Plains. Likewise, places that got less rain in past, now see intensifying drought. [..]

This isn’t only a U.S. problem. In 1990 and again in 2012, the primitive Kogi tribe of Colombia, South America broke a centuries-long silence with modern humanity to serve us a warning. Keen observers of nature’s interconnectedness, the Kogi warned that global warming is destroying the earth’s rivers, the web of life, and the Great Earth Mother.

Dec 08 2014

TBC: Morning Musing 12.8.14

I have 3 articles for your perusal this Monday morning.

First up, a great piece about what will happen if we stay on our current trajectory:

The Pitchforks Are Coming… For Us Plutocrats

And so I have a message for my fellow filthy rich, for all of us who live in our gated bubble worlds: Wake up, people. It won’t last.

If we don’t do something to fix the glaring inequities in this economy, the pitchforks are going to come for us. No society can sustain this kind of rising inequality. In fact, there is no example in human history where wealth accumulated like this and the pitchforks didn’t eventually come out. You show me a highly unequal society, and I will show you a police state. Or an uprising. There are no counterexamples. None. It’s not if, it’s when.

Many of us think we’re special because “this is America.” We think we’re immune to the same forces that started the Arab Spring-or the French and Russian revolutions, for that matter. I know you fellow .01%ers tend to dismiss this kind of argument; I’ve had many of you tell me to my face I’m completely bonkers. And yes, I know there are many of you who are convinced that because you saw a poor kid with an iPhone that one time, inequality is a fiction.

Jump!

Dec 08 2014

On This Day In History December 8

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.

December 8 is the 342nd day of the year (343rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 23 days remaining until the end of the year.

John Lennon, October 9. 1940 – December 8, 1980

The Tea Maker

Yoko Ono

John and I are in our Dakota kitchen in the middle of the night. Three cats – Sasha, Micha and Charo – are looking up at John, who is making tea for us two.

Sasha is all white, Micha is all black. They are both gorgeous, classy Persian cats. Charo, on the other hand, is a mutt. John used to have a special love for Charo. “You’ve got a funny face, Charo!” he would say, and pat her.

“Yoko, Yoko, you’re supposed to first put the tea bags in, and then the hot water.” John took the role of the tea maker, for being English. So I gave up doing it.

It was nice to be up in the middle of the night, when there was no sound in the house, and sip the tea John would make. One night, however, John said: “I was talking to Aunt Mimi this afternoon and she says you are supposed to put the hot water in first. Then the tea bag. I could swear she taught me to put the tea bag in first, but …”

“So all this time, we were doing it wrong?”

“Yeah …”

We both cracked up. That was in 1980. Neither of us knew that it was to be the last year of our life together.