If you follow my Facebook page, you will notice a number of links to articles discussing marijuana legalization. And if you haven’t yet figured it out, I am a proponent of legalization.
Washington Post, By Christopher Ingraham, November 23
Here’s an interesting factoid about contemporary policing: In 2014, for the first time ever, law enforcement officers took more property from American citizens than burglars did. Martin Armstrong pointed this out at his blog, Armstrong Economics, last week.
Officers can take cash and property from people without convicting or even charging them with a crime — yes, really! — through the highly controversial practice known as civil asset forfeiture. Last year, according to the Institute for Justice, the Treasury and Justice departments deposited more than $5 billion into their respective asset forfeiture funds. That same year, the FBI reports that burglary losses topped out at $3.5 billion.
Armstrong claims that “the police are now taking more assets than the criminals,” but this isn’t exactly right: The FBI also tracks property losses from larceny and theft, in addition to plain ol’ burglary. If you add up all the property stolen in 2014, from burglary, theft, motor vehicle theft and other means, you arrive at roughly $12.3 billion, according to the FBI. That’s more than double the federal asset forfeiture haul.
KTRK, By Kevin Quinn, August 5
Houston, TX – A Spring woman says she was sexually assaulted by a deputy during a traffic stop earlier this summer.
It happened around 10:30 pm on June 21 near Ella Blvd and Barren Springs Drive, according to Charnesia Corley. The 21-year-old says she was just going to the store to get something for her sick mother when she was pulled over by a Harris County Sheriff’s deputy.
“I feel like they sexually assaulted me! I really do. I feel disgusted, downgraded, humiliated,” Corley said.
Via Boing Boing
Raw Story, By Bethania Palma Markus, August 1
An investigative report by the Miami Herald published today reveals that two local Florida police agencies engaged in a slick money laundering scheme ripped from a Hollywood movie, reaping a whopping $2.4 million for themselves in drug money.
The Tri-County Task Force, which consisted of officers from two small police agencies, the Glade County Sheriff’s Office and Bal Harbour Police Department, laundered millions of dollars via SunTrust Bank through countries including Panama and China, the Herald found.
Per the Herald:
The Tri-County Task Force turned a money-laundering investigation into a multi-million-dollar enterprise, spending lavishly on travel and dining while picking up suitcases stuffed with drug cash from as far away as Los Angeles and San Juan.
The officers used fake names to set up seven accounts, starting in 2009, with the help of SunTrust official Ivan Morales, laundering millions each month.
The so-called sting operation laundered a total of $71.5 million — but did not result in any arrests. The illegal cash was moved overseas despite U.S. policy that forbids it.
GQ, By Jeff Sharlet, July 30
Five months after the March 1 Los Angeles police killing of an unarmed black man named Charly “Africa” Keunang—a story I reported in-depth for the July issue of GQ—the Los Angeles coroner has finally released the results of its autopsy. They are profoundly disturbing. Two of the six bullets that killed Charly entered his body through what are called “contact gunshot wounds”—which means the muzzle of the officer’s gun was pressed directly against Charly’s body. Like a slaughterhouse killing.
I’d already reviewed a less-detailed autopsy report commissioned privately by Keunang’s family and had access to leaked body-cam videos and recordings of internal police interviews with several of the officers involved. Even so, the autopsy report is startling.
There’s a moment in the body-cam video when it appears to me that Officer Francisco Martinez has his hand on Charly’s torso—Charly is on his back after having been wrestled down and tased—with his gun pointed at the body. I didn’t include that detail in my story because I couldn’t be absolutely certain. We still can’t be sure Officer Martinez’s hand is holding Charly down, but now we can be certain: He pressed his gun into the chest of an unarmed man who was lying on his back and pulled the trigger.
Washington Post, By Kimberly Kindy, May 30
In an alley in Denver, police gunned down a 17-year-old girl joyriding in a stolen car. In the backwoods of North Carolina, police opened fire on a gun-wielding moonshiner. And in a high-rise apartment in Birmingham, Ala., police shot an elderly man after his son asked them to make sure he was okay. Douglas Harris, 77, answered the door with a gun.
The three are among at least 385 people shot and killed by police nationwide during the first five months of this year, more than two a day, according to a Washington Post analysis. That is more than twice the rate of fatal police shootings tallied by the federal government over the past decade, a count that officials concede is incomplete.
“These shootings are grossly underreported,” said Jim Bueermann, a former police chief and president of the Washington-based Police Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving law enforcement. “We are never going to reduce the number of police shootings if we don’t begin to accurately track this information.”
Al Jazeera, by Tom Kutsch, January 14
That was the resounding message from Jamie Dimon, CEO and President of JPMorgan Chase, in a conference call with reporters on Wednesday, announcing a fourth quarter decline in profits for the nation’s largest bank.
“We have five or six regulators coming at us on every issue,” he said, adding that this spoke of a general wrong directed at his industry: “You all should ask the question, ‘How American that is? How fair that is?”
Zero Hedge: Bank Of America Misses Revenue By $2 Billion As Trading Revenue Collapses; Fires Thousands
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This past year has been one of so many developments in American culture that it would be hard to pick any one thing as a signal event in the course of our nation.
From the full implementation of the surprisingly effective Obamacare to the grand jury decisions in New York and Ferguson, MO, with stopovers at the broad expansion of marriage equality and Ebola outbreaks both in Africa and here, there’s a lot to mull over, a lot that will move forward with us into the new year and beyond.
Mayor Bill de Blasio had requested a protest moratorium after two NYPD officers were murdered in their squad car
Al Jazeera, December 23
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s attempts to soothe a New York City dismayed by the slaying of two officers were further rebuffed on Tuesday as protesters defied his call to suspend demonstrations over excessive police force.
De Blasio led a moment of silence at City Hall in the afternoon three days after the attack on the officers before asking his staff to hug those nearby “as a symbol of our belief that we will move forward together.”
Hours later, about 200 protesters began marching through the drizzle and traffic in the center of Manhattan, ignoring the mayor’s demand that they suspend what have become regular rallies until after the funerals of police officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu.
The Answer Coalition, organizers of the 5th Avenue march in midtown Manhattan, called the mayor’s demand to suspend protests an attempt to “chill” their speech.
US police have clashed with protesters in Missouri after an officer shot dead a black teenager close to where another black youth, Michael Brown, was killed in August sparking national protests.
BBC, December 24
A crowd of about 100 gathered at the scene in St Louis early on Wednesday after scuffles the night before.
St Louis County police said the man who was shot had pulled a gun at a petrol station and pointed it at the officer.
For weeks there have been widespread protests over alleged police brutality.
Berkeley is about two miles from the suburb of Ferguson, where 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot dead by a white officer.
Police say teen shot dead near Ferguson had pointed a gun
Protests broke out after fatal shooting they said another example of young black men being targeted by white officers
Al Jazeera, December 24
Violent protests broke out again in suburban St. Louis after another fatal shooting of a black 18-year-old by a white police officer.
The shooting happened around 11:15 p.m. Tuesday at a convenience store in Berkeley, Missouri, just a few miles from Ferguson, where Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old, was killed by a white officer in August.
St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar says the Berkeley shooting victim was black and the officer white. Police say video evidence will show that the teenager had drawn a gun on officers before he was shot.
“I had the opportunity last evening to review the video of the incident, and what I saw is not what people portray,” Berkeley Mayor Theodore Hoskins said in a presser Wednesday, referring to claims by protesters that the incident was another in a series of racially-charged shootings of black men by white police officers. “This is not a policeman half-cocked, you know black lives matter — this was not the case (that) you could even compare this with the Ferguson or Garner case.”
not go into brain-freeze or a national seizure at the pace of militarized police killings, racial/religious/you-name-it hatred, and the racialized rightward whirlpool of the GOP’s appeal to fearful whites.
In the latest of a spate of fatal shootings, officers of the infamous Los Angeles Police Department raced to touristy Hollywood Boulevard, where they fired 10 rounds to terminate a reportedly homeless man carrying a Swiss army pocket knife. Yes, a pocket knife. Guardian story here. Police pic of the palm-sized weapon here. The victim was white, by the way.
In Kansas City, a 15-year-old Somali Muslim was run down and killed outside a mosque by an SUV driven by a Somali Christian known to have threatened Muslims with violence.
In the much-anticipated runoff U.S. senate election in Louisiana, Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu fell to Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy. Like many Dems in this midterm, in her race she fled the causes embraced by her base (at the 11th hour she sang the praises of the Keystone Pipeline and its claimed monetary payoff for Louisiana) only to prove, once again, that a weak-kneed Democrat commands increasingly little electoral appeal against an unapologetic Republican rightie. Much of the American South, thanks to white-powered districts, is now in the hands of a GOP that is laying its last big demographic bet – in an increasingly brown country – on the fears of petrified whites.
In other words, the headlines we read are racing into a blur of brazenly militarized everyday policing, unrelenting hatred and rage, and accelerated racialization of national politics.
What do we do with this?
As you may know, one of the responses on social media like Twitter and Facebook to the tragic grand jury decisions in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases, as well as to the countless stories of police abuse of power specifically against black men and boys, is for white people to contrast the treatment by cops.
The theme is for a white person to post their worst crime that they got away with, then attach the hashtag #CrimingWhileWhite.
For blacks and Latinos, a similar trope of #AliveWhileBlack calls for a person to post the most dangerous encounter with either the cops or a white person that they survived.
I believe in being grateful for the universe. It is one of the few entities with a shelf life beyond that of what can be bought, sold, or stolen. Moreover, our obscene privilege as Westerners is lethally obvious. But to hell with the manufactured gratitude of Thanksgiving™, wherein kindly advertising voice-overs urge us to count our table of blessings (and hopefully shop for some more). This excerpt from a missive by Guardian columnist Jessica Valenti rightly gives that sales pitch the finger:
Face it: Thanksgiving is depressing this year, and you don’t have to give thanks
We shouldn’t ask grieving people to plaster on a smile to make the rest of us feel better. Even if it’s the holidays.
This Thanksgiving, it’s difficult not to think about loss.
For a lot of people, this time of year brings more sadness than cheer – thinking about the kinds of relationships you wish you could have with family or friend, thinking about loved ones that aren’t there. And as injustice prevails in Ferguson, as another young man of color is killed with seeming impunity, as sexual predators are given standing ovations and sexual violence across the US continues to be unearthed, it’s hard to remember how to be thankful. It’s easier to ask what we are supposed to be thankful for at all.
North Dakota took on the oversight of a multibillion-dollar oil industry with a regulatory system built on trust, warnings and second chances. The cooperative approach doesn’t seem to generate results.
NYT -In early August 2013, Arlene Skurupey of Blacksburg, Va., got an animated call from the normally taciturn farmer who rents her family land in Billings County, N.D. There had been an accident at the Skurupey 1-9H oil well. “Oh, my gosh, the gold is blowing,” she said he told her. “Bakken gold.”
It was the 11th blowout since 2006 at a North Dakota well operated by Continental Resources, the most prolific producer in the booming Bakken oil patch. Spewing some 173,250 gallons of potential pollutants, the eruption, undisclosed at the time, was serious enough to bring the Oklahoma-based company’s chairman and chief executive, Harold G. Hamm, to the remote scene.
More of this lengthy, detailed article at the link. (image: Brent McDonald/NYT)