Saturday, December 06, 2014

John Grant: IS THE POLICE REFORM MOVEMENT GETTING LEGS? @ This Can't Be Happening!

Date of publication, Dec. 5, 2014. This Can't Be Happening is a five time Project Censored award winning news writer collective. Support them with a donation TODAY!
 

How and why certain events in politics and culture coalesce into a critical mass is always an interesting thing to ponder. Sometimes it can happen when all hope has been lost.

In chaos theory, there’s the enigmatic image of the butterfly in the Amazon whose wing fluttering cascades into a hurricane in the northern hemisphere. How to explain the instantaneous shifting swings and swoops of swarming birds and schools of minnows? In politics, some like to cite the downfall of the Soviet empire: seemingly eternal and invulnerable one day, gone the next. I’m wondering: Are we seeing an example of such mysterious critical mass now in the sudden focus on excessive police behavior in America?

Police and prosecutorial misconduct is hardly a new phenomenon. But it seems to be getting worse as the crime rate goes down. I can’t recall anything like the wide-spread and continuing citizen and media reaction following the events in Ferguson, Missouri; Staten Island, New York; and Cleveland, Ohio. (We humans seem to like to arrange things in threes, which may be aesthetically and politically the most satisfying clumping of events.)

Ferguson set things off due to the excessive number of gunshots used by an inexperienced cop to kill an unarmed 18-year-old Black male. The town is an example of white leadership over a predominantly Black population, a condition following a demographic shift. Right-wing, knee-jerk defenders of police fell in line and put the cop on a pedestal and defended the prosecutor whose slick grand jury manipulation deflected any accountability for police misconduct.

Soon, as if written in a script to accentuate the police misconduct in Ferguson, a Staten Island prosecutor guided a grand jury to let off without even a shaming finger shake a pack of cops who strangled a 43-year-old, unarmed Black male for selling “loosies” or untaxed, individual cigarettes to feed his family. It was like Jean Valjean and that famous loaf of bread. And it was all on videotape, precluding the officers from making a waistband plea to the court -- as in, “He seemed to be reaching into his waistband.” Once the obese man was subdued and dying, incredibly, police officers -- first responders! -- are seen standing over the body like they were waiting for the donut truck.

The video was so damning the right-wing police defense league broke apart. Bill O’Reilly, Charles Krauthammer, Rand Paul and others went soft. Something was terribly wrong here. The big family man was an American entrepreneur and the cops were working for The Taxman! How could this happen in America?

Finally, there was the rank absurdity of a Cleveland cop caught on video arriving on the scene in a fast squad car. He leaps out of the car and within two seconds unloads his service revolver on a 12-year-old Black boy who had been brandishing a fake gun. Yes, in retrospect, this was not very smart of the child. But was it any stupider than the Cleveland Police Department that had hired the man as a cop. This was a man who had been fired by a previous employer who dumped him because he was emotionally unbalanced and a terrible shot on the pistol range. They concluded he was “incompetent” to be a police officer. Cleveland's PD is now under US Justice Department oversight. We’ll have to wait and see what happens to the Cleveland killer cop. Given the political climate, he may be festooned with garlands of stink weed and sacrificed to the media gods.

As for the three Black males, none of them qualified as saints or were without reasons to criticize their behavior. They were just human. The point is, their pride and their egos -- their lives! -- were not respected by police officers whose pride and egos are recognized ad nausea. Cops are legally armed and paid to protect the citizens of their community. These males were all citizens.


Somehow things have gotten so skewed in this country that a cop’s ego is sacrosanct and allowed to run free under the influence of fear and adrenaline. Cop narcissism can be comic to witness, but it can also be lethal when seriously challenged. As many have pointed out, prosecutors rely on cops first and foremost and are not inclined to find fault with them. When it comes to police or prosecutorial misconduct, it's a match made in Hell.


People seem to have reached a sense of "enough!" The police and prosecutorial reform movement has nothing to do with good cops and good prosecutors, which are no doubt the majority. Mayor Bill DiBlasio of New York eloquently spoke of warning his own bi-racial son about dealing with the New York police. A New York City police union spokesman accused the mayor of “throwing New York cops under the bus.” But race is not the main point, here, something this police union spokesman's remarks should make clear. The point is to throw under the bus cops who should be thrown under the bus for the good of the community. The question I like to ask my union friends is: Why at a time of right-wing ascendance when unions are on the ropes are police unions the most successful unions everywhere? Think about it.

Over the years, many activists and commentators (including this one) have tried to make the case there's a disturbing national problem growing inside our police departments. It has been fueled by the disastrous Drug War and the fears that followed on the 9/11 attacks. As Mayor DiBlasio suggested, there’s the vestiges of “centuries” of racial violence and prejudice deep-seated in the culture. Add to that the human fallout of economic success and failure -- the class bugaboo -- and you have a toxic stew.

This needs to be asked: What exactly does the bottom-up policing concept of “broken windows” (ie. coming down hard on low-level “quality of life” crimes) really mean? One thing it means is hitting hard the most vulnerable among us, the poor. Juxtapose that with the policing reality of “too big to fail” which gives a pass to those in the executive suites. Big and seemingly lovable Eric Garner selling loosies is the poster boy for the outrage this skewed national priority has become. One would have to be determinedly cold-blooded, even fascistic, to refuse to see the pile-on of cops that killed Garner as outrageous. It's important to recognize what was captured in that video would be outrageous even if Garner had not been killed.

Cracks in the system are appearing, not least the one rooted in the high cost of our criminal justice and penal system. I work with incarcerated veterans, and there are signs in Pennsylvania’s capital of a new openness to reform based significantly on the money issue. The system is vulnerable, and citizen crowbars need to be applied to these cracks, chipping and wiggled them open further so the moral issues can seep in and further break down the governmental concrete.


Michael Brown’s body, DA Robert McCulloch, Eric Garner being killed, DA Daniel Donovan
It would be good to see the vigorous demonstrations continue and shift into other cultural and political realms -- like electoral politics. Nothing is going to change without real heat under the cooking pot. History has tragically shown that in America little change happens until there's at least a threat of violence and destruction. Michael Brown’s stepfather, Louis Head, has apologized for screaming over and over “Burn the bitch down!” in front of the Ferguson Police Department headquarters following the grand jury verdict. As inexcusable as his remarks were, they were understandable as a cry-from-the-heart in a moment of weakness. For the Ferguson PD and St. Louis prosecutor to go after him would be piling another citizen-indicted "crime" to the ones already perpetrated by Officer Darren Wilson and Prosecutor Robert McCulloch.

Let’s hope the Obama administration has the backbone to follow up on its pronouncements. National government intervention based on the Bill Of Rights has important precedent in American life.

There's the need to dismantle the dysfunctional Drug War and to design workable programs to seriously address the demand side of the problem. Police department addiction to forfeiture of assets in drug raids is a major corrupting influence. According to Ted Best in Politics & Crime: Big Government’s Erratic Campaign for Law and Order, these and other features of the Drug War established in the mid-1980s were notably driven hard by Senator Joe Biden to help the Democrats get back in the game after being trounced by Ronald Reagan. The vice president should atone for this and work to dismantle the mess he helped set upon America.



Returning our local police departments to their communities and cutting them loose from the surplus weaponry from our unnecessary wars would also be a good thing for America. All this trend has done is help mentally turn cops into a militaristic occupying force that sees their fellow citizens as potential enemies to be beaten down at the first sign of questioning their authority. It is a self-fulfilling tragic circle.

Finally, cops love to stress how dangerous their job is. And it certainly can be that. But that’s the job they signed up for, what they are paid by their communities to do. If cops want citizens to give them the respect they feel they deserve for the risks they take, then they need to accept those risks and not resent citizens for them. To paraphrase the quaint old maxim my conservative dad liked to cite, “It’s better that 10 cops get shot than one innocent civilian be shot.”

These days, among the cop elite, it seems the other way around.


ThisCantBeHappening!, the new independent, uncompromised, five-time Project Censored Award-winning online alternative newspaper, please go to:  www.thiscantbehappening.net



Friday, December 05, 2014

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Teddy Wilson: KANSAS REPUBLICANS BLOCK INVESTIGATION INTO MEDICAID PROGRAM @ RH Reality Check

[Excerpt]  ...  Since its inception, KanCare has come under scrutiny for possible pay-to-play corruption and complaints of long waits for benefits.

The FBI has reportedly conducted an investigation into the Brownback administration’s approval of the $3 billion in KanCare contracts. Former Brownback chief of staff David Kensinger is reportedly at the center of an FBI investigation, amid allegations that he received financial compensation from all three companies.

The three Democrats on the joint House-Senate KanCare Oversight Committee called for the creation of the investigative committee in September, just as Brownback headed into the final month of his re-election campaign. ...  [End of Excerpt]

Read the complete article at RH Reality Check.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

 This Week at ECM

 

Monday 12/1/14 through Sunday 12/7/14

Please refer to the information board when entering the ECM Center for specific meeting location within the building.
Monday December 1
  • ECM Farmer's Market noon to 3:00 pm
  • ECM Fair Trade Market 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM
  • #KansasBlackOut Ferguson Event 6:15 PM
    • A "walk in remembrance" from the Kansas Union to the Burge Union
Tuesday December 2
  • ECM Fair Trade Market 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM
  • #KansasBlackOut Ferguson Event 11:50 AM
    • A demonstration outside Strong Hall to show Unity with the family of Michael Brown (please wear black)
  • Tai Chi Yang Style Short Form 5:30pm for beginners 6:00pm for experienced. For more details go to: http://ecmku.org/calendar/
  • ECM's Sexuality Education Committee 7:00pm 
    • A discussion about Rape Culture with Rachel Gadd-Nelson
  • Dances of Universal Peace 7:30 PM at ECM
Wednesday December 3
  • ECM Fair Trade Market 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM
  • University Community Forum Noon-1:00pm (optional meal served at 11:30am):
    • The Practical Effects of Common Core on USD 497 Instruction by Angelique Kobler, Assistant Superintendent, Teaching and Learning **For the complete Fall schedule, click here
  • Environs/Students for a Sustainable Future 5:30 Environs is a long-standing student-led environmental advocacy group at KU that works hard to promote sound environmental practices on campus, in Lawrence, and regionally.
Thursday December 4
  • ECM Fair Trade Market 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM
  • Veggie Lunch 11:30am-1:00pm Join community members and students for a great vegetarian lunch with conversation and a chance to meet others. Volunteer cooks create vegetarian dishes for all to enjoy. Donations are accepted, with proceeds covering the cost of food.
  • Campus Cupboard 4:00pm to 7:00pm The Campus Cupboard is a small pantry located in the basement of the ECM Center that is open to anyone in need of food. In collaboration with Just Food and Center for Community Outreach the pantry is open every Thursday of the month. Visitors will find fresh produce, Wheatfield's bread, pasta, protein items and plenty more. The atmosphere within the pantry is very welcoming. Volunteers help sign guests in as well as demonstrate the procedure for acquiring food within the pantry.
  • Fair Trade Coffee Tasting and screening of "The Dark Side of Chocolate" at the ECM Fair Trade Market 6:30 PM at ECM
  • #KansasBlackOut Ferguson Event 7:00 PM
    • "Why Race Matters" discussion in the Kansas Union Ballroom
Friday December 5
  • ECM Fair Trade Market 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM
  • International Coffee Hour 3:00pm Join us every Friday at 3pm at the ECM Center for an opportunity to share culture, language and friendship in a casual environment. Refreshments provided. In collaboration with KU Global Partners, we will have Cultural Presentations every first friday of the month.
  • #KansasBlackOut Ferguson Event
    • A vigil at the capital

Practicing Compassion, Exploring Faiths, Building Community

1204 Oread Avenue                     (785)843 4933                             ecmku@ku.edu

Marjorie Cohn: THE STRANGE FERGUSON GRAND JURY @ Consortium News

There is an old saying that prosecutors can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich – and statistics bear that out. But the police slaying of a young African-American man in Missouri received startlingly different treatment with the grand jury almost invited to exonerate the officer, says Marjorie Cohn.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Jaeah Lee & A.J. Vicens: WHAT DARREN WILSON TOLD THE ST. LOUIS GRAND JURY ABOUT SHOOTING MICHAEL BROWN @ Mother Jones

South Wind Women's Clinic: TRUST WOMEN TO WICHITA CITY COUNCIL, ASK FOR FAIR TREATMENT @ Facebook Event


Show your support for Trust Women at the November 2nd City Council meeting at 9 AM to tell them "city government must work for all of us."

South Wind Women’s Center is no different than any of the hundreds of medical facilities open in Wichita and surrounding communities. We offer a range of safe, legal and much needed reproductive healthcare services for hundreds of families every year. We pay our taxes, employ a number of Wichitans, follow the rules, and we know we are helping make this a better community.

Yet when it comes to enjoying the same rights and protections from the city government as any other business enjoys, South Wind Women’s Center comes up short day in and day out. The city would never allow the activities we see in front of our clinic on a daily basis to happen at any other business in the city. Dissent and protest is one thing, but what we see goes far beyond that – harassment of patients, employees and guests; obstructing and defacing right-of-ways; illegal camping; illegal or obscene signs and markers, noise violations – the list goes on. South Wind is asking for the same protection the city would give any other legal business.

Robert Parry: POSSIBLE MOTIVES FOR OUSTING HAGEL @ Consortium News



Exclusive: At the start of Barack Obama’s second term, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was seen as the best hope for standing up to the neocons, inside and outside the administration. Though Hagel proved to be a weak champion, his sudden removal could portend more trouble ahead, writes Robert Parry.

Read more at Consortium News.

Auntie Dave's [DAILY BLEED] 25 November 2014 @ Discomfit Magazine

WEEKLY NEWSLETTER, 24 November 2014, SUSTAINABILITY ACTION NETWORK @ Discomfit Magazine

Monday, November 24, 2014

Dave Lindorff: "US news organizations dispense propaganda, not news: Forget ‘Fair and Balanced,’ US Corporate Media Give Only the Government’s Side" @ This Can't Be Happening!

One searches almost in vain for honest reporting on the Ukraine conflict in the US corporate media, which is simply parroting the US government position, which is that the rebels in eastern Ukraine are simply tools of Russian aggression against Ukraine.

Yet the murderous shelling of the people of the rebel regions of Lugansk and Donetsk in eastern Ukraine is almost certainly wholly the work of an aggressive Kiev-government led Ukraine military, which has been ramping up its forces in the east in preparation for a renewed assault on the two separatist states of Lugansk and Donetsk.

Each time there is a report of shelling of either city, Lugansk or Donetsk, the US media either completely fail to mention who might be responsible, or they report that “both sides” accuse each other of being responsible, though this is clearly absurd, since even those same media also refer to Donetsk and Lugansk as “rebel-held” or “separatist-held,” or as “rebel strongholds.” Why, one ought to ask, would the rebels shell their own territory, much less the capitals of their respective rebel regions?

The model for how such incidents are to be reported was set on Oct. 6 by America’s version of Pravda, Voice of America. In its article that day, headlined NATO Concerned about E. Ukraine Cease-Fire Violations, it states:

“The new head of NATO said the Western military alliance is concerned about the large number of violations of the cease-fire in eastern Ukraine, which he indirectly blamed on pro-Russian separatists.”

Following in lockstep with that approach, here’s what the US media had to say about the conflict in recent weeks:

The New York Times (Nov. 9):

A shaky cease-fire in eastern Ukraine looked ever more tenuous on Sunday as European monitors confirmed reports of unmarked military vehicles driving through rebel-held territory while Donetsk, the region’s biggest city, endured a nightlong artillery battle.

The monitoring group, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, said that long columns of unmarked military vehicles, some towing howitzers, were spotted over the weekend. The monitors did not speculate as to the origins of the trucks or the people inside them, but Ukrainian officials said the statements bolstered their claims that Russia was again arming and training separatists.

...On Sunday, after what journalists in Donetsk described as the heaviest night of artillery shelling in and around the city in at least a month, the O.S.C.E. observers saw two more unmarked military columns. The observers noted 17 trucks in each column, some equipped with Grad ground-to-ground rocket launchers and others towing more howitzers.

Comment: Notice the focus here on the unidentified military vehicles, but not a word about who would have been firing that heavy artillery barrage into rebel-held Donetsk...

For the rest of this article by DAVE LINDORFF in ThisCantBeHappening!, the new independent, uncompromised, five-time Project Censored Award-winning online alternative newspaper, please go to: www.thiscantbehappening.net/node/2559

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Shaun King: Video: Police lied. Mike Brown was killed 148 feet away from Darren Wilson's SUV @ Daily Kos