You are browsing the archive for 2015 January 28.

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Teenage Girl Shot & Killed by Police; Eyewitness Exposes a Key Police Lie

January 28, 2015 in Blogs

By Shaun King, Daily Kos

Is law enforcement lying about the shooting?


Joyriding in what may have been a stolen car, a group of teenage girls were fired upon by Denver police, killing 17 year old Jessica (Jessie) Hernandez. Her autopsy report shows that she died of multiple gunshot wounds.

The problem, is, though, that the in initial police statements after the Jessie's death, police made it out like they shot and killed Jessie after she deliberately hit an officer with the car, breaking his leg. Here's the account from the police chief the night of the shooting,

Police Chief Robert White says the first officer to arrive ran the license plate and determined the vehicle was stolen.

“As the officer exited the vehicle, the driver of the (stolen) vehicle struck one of the officers in the leg,” White said.

He said both officers then fired several shots at the teenaged driver. White said a total of five “very young” people were in the car.

A passenger in the car, though, in the video below, says that's just not what happened and that Jessie didn't lose control and hit the officer until after she was shot and killed.


Exactly one week before this shooting, another 17 year old teenage girl, Kristiana Coignard, was shot and killed by police in Texas.

 

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Thugs and Demagogues: 7 Right-Wing Wackos the Media Will Shove Down Our Throats in 2016

January 28, 2015 in Blogs

By Steven Rosenfeld, AlterNet

Thanks to the Kochs, ready or not, here they come.


The Puritan hangover that is the Republican Party’s right wing was in full bloom this past weekend in Iowa, as a bevy of conservative presidential prospects shared the stage at the Iowa Freedom Summit, preaching to the converted about the sins of liberalism, the weaknesses of Obama and Democrats, and what is needed to restore America’s glory, guts and greatness.

“America needs a hero again,” Sarah Palin chirped before 1,000-plus attendees, almost all white, middle-aged or older, who looked like they had been diverted from a bus tour of Ronald Reagan’s birthplace in nearby Illinois. “And screw the left and Hollywood who can’t understand what we see in someone like Chris Kyle [the protagonist of American Sniper] and all of our vets.” 

Palin now more of a political entertainer than candidate, was there, like many others, to inspire the most right-wing Iowans to ignore the GOP mainstream and select a presidential nominee who puts God, guns, less government and the Constitution (as they see it) as their compass.

Every possible candidate present—Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, ex-Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, real estate mogul Donald Trump, brain surgeon Ben Carson, ex-Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and others—said America’s future depends on returning to a past before big government, but never big business, was public enemy number one, and when American military might made dictators and terrorists cower.

It was equal parts a right-wing talent and freak show, where anything that could be called liberal was derided as weak, morally loose, indecisive, coddling and a failure. Federal government and union-represented public schools are scourges and the source of the major problems that Americans face, they said repeatedly, adding that only the GOP could give working people the tools needed to finally prosper. That agenda includes sealing the borders, dismantling Obamacare, shutting government agencies, cutting taxes and red tape for small business, gutting unions, privatizing schools, protecting Christian liberty and traditional marriage, and using the military.  

“Today is the 50th anniversary of Winston Churchill’s passing,” Cruz said in …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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AlterNet Comics: How Cops' Rights Differ From Everyone Else's

January 28, 2015 in Blogs

By Keith Knight, AlterNet

“You have the right to expire while I call my union rep to figure out what to do next.”


 

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Source: ALTERNET

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Why Sarah Palin Running for President Is a Great Thing for America

January 28, 2015 in Blogs

By Jeb Lund, The Guardian

Every one of her appearances is a new Schadenfreude-steeped catastrophe. I hope she never leaves us.


At this point, listening to a Sarah Palin speech is like being taped to a chair with conservative bumper stickers and having gimmick coffee mugs thrown at you. It is the natural conclusion of what would happen if a Big Dogs T-shirt became minimally self-aware and developed a politics. Catchphrases abound — some six-years-old and counting — held together only by the fact that Palin is saying them. Moose chili. Mama grizzlies. Don’t retreat, reload. Hopey-changey. Bill Ayers. Benghazi. Vladimir Putin. Lipstick on a pig. They’re laugh lines without thought, unlinked by a program or even syllogism.

Case in point: at the Iowa Freedom Summit on Saturday, Palin delivered the most unhinged speech of her career. Reportedly, her teleprompter conked out, inadvertently taking thousands of fresh “Obama Teleprompter” jokes with it, so she ad libbed, ultimately going 10 minutes over her allotted time while hurling out rewarmed zingers and bewildering anecdotes. At 35 minutes, watching it was bizarre and exhausting, but its real tone leaps off the printed page in CSPAN’s all-caps transcript: it reads like a Zodiac letter.

Then she told reporters that she might run for president. Twice.

Even by Palin’s heroic standards, it was a disaster: you could watch journalists on social media openly speculating whether she had gone to a bar for lunch and said, “Gimme the Noah’s ark: round up two of everything”. The response was brutaleven from the right: conservative writer and curator-of-your-comp-lit-professor’s-1995-haircut Byron York described it as “at times barely coherent”, while no less than Michelle Bachmann’s former campaign manager dismissed Palin as less substantial than other candidates

I hope she never goes away: she is the reddest of the red meat served with the lowest-hanging fruit, and every appearance is some new sublime Schadenfreude-steeped catastrophe. But my amusement should be a problem for movement conservatism.

The right …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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I Do Not Care About Your Baby

January 28, 2015 in Blogs

By Jonathan Naymark, Salon

It's not that I hate your little sprog. Just don't ask me to indulge your narcissism.


At some point, as is natural, your friends will pair off. They will then marry. Copulate. Impregnate. And birth children. This is all beautiful. Their children will be beautiful. Their children will be special. And gorgeous. And brilliant.

Your friends will tell you all of the things that their baby does with the expectant urge of a best friend telling you a salacious piece of gossip about a mutual, long forgotten friend from college. You will reply in murmurs of excitement, amazement and wonderment.

The truth however, will be far less ambiguous: You do not care about their baby.

At some point I may do the same. I may pair off. Have a child. Although my version of impregnate may involve a surrogate in Mexico (as Facebook targeting has suggested is a popular option for New York gays). And that baby will be special and amazing and I will tell you all about it and how brilliant my baby is because it put a red square into a square hole. And you are free to not care about my baby.

Because I do not care about your baby.

It’s not that I hate your baby. I don’t. I want your baby to grow up healthy and go to Harvard. I want to one day realize that your baby has political views and look forward to reading an article about your baby in the newspaper (or whatever becomes of newspapers by 2042). Maybe one day your baby will call me and ask me for job advice and that will be awesome although it will make me feel old. Maybe one day I will ask your baby for a job because your baby has founded some sort of technology company that has made millions of dollars (hopefully your baby will buy you a fancy hovercraft that we can go joy riding in or alternatively a nice place to retire to in Florida). I will then care about your baby. I know I’m self-involved.

This is anathema to what we’re supposed …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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People With No Religion Underrepresented By a Factor of 100 in New Congress

January 28, 2015 in Blogs

By Zaid Jilani, AlterNet

20 percent of Americans have no affiliation with organized religion. Only 0.2 percent of Congress says the same.


Americans expect their Congress members to represent the depth and breadth of the public. Our country was founded on the notion of representative democracy—that lawmakers would be of the people.

But a new Pew report that digs into the religious backgrounds of the 114th Congress reveals it is actually wildly unrepresentative of the religious makeup of the American public at large.

To start with, here's a graph Pew composed showing the makeup of both the House and Senate:

Researchers compared these statistics to the religious affiliation of the American public. The most underrepresented group is Americans who are unaffiliated with organized religion. Twenty percent of Americans are unaffiliated but only 0.2 percent of Congress is, meaning they are underrepresented by 100 times.

Other specific religious groups are overrepresented. Mormons are 2 percent of the population but 7 percent of the Senate. Jews are 2 percent of the population but 9 percent of the Senate.

None of this is to argue that people should vote for someone solely due to their religious faith, but it does show that our Congress members not only don’t look like the American people, they don’t worship (or not worship) like us either.

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Source: ALTERNET

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Border Surveillance Follies

January 28, 2015 in Economics

By Patrick G. Eddington

Patrick G. Eddington

For more than a decade, the Department of Homeland Security has employed some of the same kinds of drones used by our military. The ostensible purpose of having unarmed Predator drones was to give U.S. Customs and Border Protection additional aerial surveillance capabilities along the Southern border. Homeland Security officials argued the drones were cost-effective and needed. As a cost-savings measure, the Obama administration proposed major cuts to the DHS drone program in 2010, but House Appropriations Committee leaders, who supported the program and felt the expansion should continue, shot that proposal down. They should’ve thought through that decision far more carefully.

On Christmas Eve 2014, the DHS’s inspector general released a report on the department’s drone surveillance program, and it is an indictment of the program.

The DHS’s inspector general released a report on the department’s drone surveillance program, and it is an indictment of the program.”

The DHS IG found that “ …  after 8 years, CBP cannot prove that the program is effective.” Worse, the CBP low-balled the per-hour cost of operating its drones. Instead of the claimed $2,468 per flight hour, the DHS IG found the cost was $12,255 per hour — nearly five times as much as CBP officials have claimed. Almost no illegal border crossing apprehensions could be attributed to information from the drones, and the CBP could not show the drones actually reduced the cost of border surveillance. Despite these findings, the CBP has not abandoned plans to spend nearly half a billion dollars more to expand its drone program.

These are the kind of audit results that should spur Congress to terminate a wasteful, ineffective government program. Instead, this week Congress is poised to pass legislation that would direct the DHS to double-down on the use of drones for border surveillance.

The so-called Secure Our Borders First Act (HR 399), sponsored by the House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, directs on virtually a sector-by-sector basis the employment of drones for aerial surveillance — either the larger drones like Predator for “maritime surveillance” or man-portable drones for more overland aerial surveillance. It’s worth noting that the kind of man-portable drones McCaul is instructing the DHS to use have vastly shorter aerial loiter times than the larger Predator drone, and cannot carry the full range of the most sophisticated, capable surveillance technologies available to the U.S. government — the …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Do We Care about Prisoners in Solitary Confinement?

January 28, 2015 in Economics

By Nat Hentoff

Nat Hentoff

More than once, the late Supreme Court Justice William Brennan told me: “This nation will not be civilized until it ends the death penalty.”

But how civilized are we now, when, according to extended research by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR):

“Tens of thousands of individuals across the country are detained inside cramped, concrete, windowless cells in a state of near-total solitude for between 22 and 24 hours a day. The cells have a toilet and a shower, and a slot in the door large enough for a guard to slip a food tray through.

“Prisoners in solitary confinement are frequently deprived of telephone calls and contact visits. ‘Recreation’ involves being taken, often in handcuffs and shackles, to another solitary cell where prisoners can pace alone for an hour before being returned to their cell” (“Torture: The Use of Solitary Confinement in U.S. Prisons,” ccrjustice.org).

Says Luis Esquivel, a prisoner plaintiff in a CCR lawsuit: “I feel dead. It’s been 13 years since I have shaken someone’s hand, and I feel I’ll forget the feel of human contact.”

The Center for Constitutional Rights, which I have been referring to in my column for years, continues: “Researchers have demonstrated that prolonged solitary confinement causes a persistent and heightened state of anxiety and nervousness, headaches, insomnia, lethargy or chronic tiredness, nightmares, heart palpitations, and fear of impending nervous breakdowns.

“Other documented effects include obsessive ruminations, confused thought processes, an oversensitivity to stimuli, irrational anger, social withdrawal, hallucinations, violent fantasies, emotional flatness, mood swings, chronic depression, feelings of overall deterioration, as well as suicidal intention.”

Forget about the death penalty for a moment. Is this civilized, legal punishment in these United States?

I will be surprised if a candidate for the presidency or any public office in 2016 brings up the issue of solitary confinement while campaigning.

So, in the meantime, let’s look into what the New York state prison system is doing to humanize solitary confinement.

In a 2014 New York Times lead editorial, we learn that corrections officials have at least agreed “to new guidelines for the maximum length prisoners may be placed in solitary” (“New York Rethinks Solitary Confinement,” Feb. 20, 2014).

And dig this for what should be a national standard: “The state will also curb the use of solitary for the most vulnerable groups of inmates.

“Those younger than 18 will receive at least five hours of exercise and other programming outside their cell five days a …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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The 13-Year-Old Boy Who Grew Up In a Georgia Prison

January 28, 2015 in Blogs

By Shaun King, Daily Kos

Michael Lewis is now 18 years into a life sentence. He and his supporters claim he is innocent.


This is the first part of a six-week series on Michael “Little B” Lewis. 

In January 1997, as a 17-year-old high school senior, I submitted my application to attend Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. Eight months later I'd call Atlanta and Morehouse home. In the 18 years since, I became a student leader, graduated from Morehouse, married my high school sweetheart, had three kids and adopted two more, wrote and published my first book, started a church, started a charity, bought and sold our first home in Atlanta, nearly died in a car accident, started and sold three businesses, moved to California, moved to New York City, and moved to South Africa. I've now been alive longer since I sent in that application than I was before I sent it.  

A few gray hairs are popping up on my 35-year-old head and I have children in elementary, middle, and high school. In that same period of time, since January 1997, a young brother I now see as my peer, Michael Lewis, has spent every day of every year in prison. As I reflect back on everything that's happened over the past 18 years, my mind can't begin to fathom what it would be like to have spent all of them behind bars. No marriage, no kids, no college, no travel, no businesses, no charities.

When Michael Lewis entered prison, tried and convicted as an adult for murder in Georgia at the outrageous age of 13, Bill Clinton was president of the United States and hadn't been impeached yet. The top movie in the world was Titanic. Michael Jordan was still winning NBA championships. Michael Jackson had just gotten married, Princess Diana and Mother Theresa were still alive, and the Internet hardly even existed. iPhone and Android and Bluetooth and Xbox and Twitter and Facebook were all make-believe.

Before we dig in to Michael's story, take a moment and think back to when you were 13 years old. Where did you live? What grade …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Sen. Paul Joins Greta Van Susteren On the Record- Jan. 27, 2015

January 28, 2015 in Politics & Elections

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Source: RAND PAUL