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Media Had Already Bought Police's Fantasy Version of Walter Scott Killing Before Video Surfaced

April 8, 2015 in Blogs

By Adam Johnson, FAIR

Until the shocking video, most of the local press coverage followed the police’s official narrative.

The New York Times (4/7/15) released a video of a black South Carolina man Walter Scott being shot, casually and without apparent mercy, eight times in the back by white police officer Michael T. Slager. The media’s outrage after the video’s publication was righteous and swift. The state of South Carolina followed suit, filing murder charges against Slager. Indeed, the video offers no ambiguity whatsoever:

Before this shocking video surfaced, however, most of the local press coverage, per usual, followed the police’s official narrative and amplified a storyline that, in retrospect, was entirely made up.

The Scott shooting, as Think Progress’s Judd Ledgum pointed out, provides unique insight into the way the police use inherent asymmetry of information to assert their narrative:

Between the time when he shot and killed Scott early Saturday morning and when charges were filed, Slager — using the both the police department and his attorney — was able to provide his “version” of the events.

He appeared well on his way to avoiding charges and pinning the blame on Scott.

Then a video, shot by an anonymous bystander, revealed exactly what happened.

In all police killings, one side–the victim–is, by definition, dead. So the “both sides” type of reporting we’re so often used to almost invariably becomes a one-sided airing of accounts, facts and selective details from the police side that the corporate media repeats without question. Indeed, Charleston’s local ABC affiliate would begin their report with, what turned out to be, an outright lie:

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) — A man involved in a traffic stop that turned into a physical altercation with a North Charleston police officer died Saturday after being shot by the officer.

But the New York Times video shows there was no “physical altercation.” There was someone being shot in the back eight times while trying to run away. The report would go …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Why Is a Pro-Israel Group at Rutgers College Partnering with an Extreme Anti-Semitic Christian Organization?

April 8, 2015 in Blogs

By Zaid Jilani, AlterNet

Christians United For Israel's John Hagee has in the past engaged in extreme anti-semitic rhetoric.

The Rutgers chapter of Hillel International, the Jewish college student religious group, is known for courting anti-Muslim beliefs. For example, its executive director was caught saying that Islam is a problem, and denying Palestine's right to exist.

Next week, Rutgers Hillel is co-sponsoring an event on combating anti-semitism with Christians United For Israel, a Christian Zionist group headed by pastor John Hagee. Hagee has in the past engaged in extreme anti-semitic rhetoric, such as saying that the Holocaust was God's will. More recently, he reiterated his position that Jews need to accept Jesus to avoid going to hell.

The event features Kasim Hafeez, a Pakistani-British man and self-proclaimed former adherent of “radical Islam” who now supports Zionism. Hafeez uses his Muslim background to set himself apart from other supporters of Israel, but there's little difference between him and garden-variety neoconservatives. He wrote a Facebook post comparing Obama to Neville Chamberlain, who famously appeased Hitler.

The alliance between Rutgers Hillel, CUFI and a self-proclaimed former Muslim extremist seems to show that when it comes to those who are supporting Israel's government at any cost, there are few limits; even allying with former or current anti-semites is acceptable.

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Source: ALTERNET

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How Living Apart Transformed My Marriage

April 8, 2015 in Blogs

By Jenn Bennett, xojane

Taking a job 3,000 miles away from my husband changed everything.

My husband, Gabe, and I probably have what many of our friends would call a really solid marriage. We’re never afraid to talk about what we’re really feeling; we complement each other in all the right ways; and we’ve gone through some really tough times only to come out on the other side stronger and better equipped for the roller-coaster ride of lifelong partnership. 

So when I accepted a job out of state, we were both convinced that if any couple could deal with the unique challenges, it was us.

I had always wanted to work with books, ever since I was a little kid. When I began to gain experience in publishing, I knew it was the right direction for me. I had been told repeatedly that my chances of gaining employment were higher if I moved from Northern California to the East Coast. It was an idea I resisted for years. But misery at my current job and lack of future prospects stirred curiosity in me.

I asked Gabe what he thought about my looking for jobs out of state, just to see if I was qualified, and he was supportive. 

“You should apply. See what happens,” he said.

So I put my resume out to every position that piqued my interest, no matter where it was located. Out of more than two dozen applications, only one publisher called for an interview. They offered me a job as an assistant production editor. The job was in Albany, New York, 3,000 miles away from where I had lived my entire life, in Oakland. I was over the moon, and completely conflicted.

I called Gabe immediately. His first reaction was that I needed to take the job, that it was a great opportunity, and that it was something I really wanted. I took a weekend to weigh my options and run a budget. I talked the decision to death with Gabe, who wasn’t prepared to move with me yet, but encouraged me nonetheless. 

What if I just gave it a year to …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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McDonald's Raises Are Shameless Public Relations Ploy

April 8, 2015 in Blogs

By Zaid Jilani, AlterNet

Only 12 percent of the McDonald's workforce will get a raise.

If you read the news last week, you'd think McDonald's was breaking its long tradition as one of America's most anti-union low-wage employers to give its many employees a meaningful, well-deserved raise. Here are a few headlines that give off this impression:

  • McDonald's Fortunes Are So Dire, It's Doing a Decent Thing For Its Workers [Slate]
  • Following the Crowd, McDonald's Pledges to Raise Wages [Washington Post]
  • McDonald's to Increase Hourly Wages, Offer Paid Vacation [Bloomberg]

As always, the devil is in the details. What McDonald's is actually doing is increasing wages at “company-owned” stores to $1 above the local minimum wage.

The majority of McDonald's stores are not company-owned. For the most part, the company's restaurants are operated by independent franchisees. Globally, over 80 percent of McDonald's stores operate this way; in the United States, the number is closer to 90 percent. It's estimated that the raise will benefit around 90,000 employees out of a workforce of 750,000. That means 88 percent won't be affected at all.

Then there's the other concrete half of McDonald's much-touted plan: the expansion of paid time-off.

McDonald's states that starting on July 1, “all crew (part-time and full-time) at company-owned restaurants will be eligible for paid time-off after a year on the job, which they can use for any reason whatsoever. And those who don’t use the time-off they’ve earned will be paid for it.”

Although a year is a long time to wait before receiving paid vacation, it is nominally an improvement over having none, which is the status quo in much of the fast food industry. But there's a catch. McDonald's is shy about publishing turnover numbers (its UK division intentionally doesn't publish them because it warns that “these can't be compared to staff turnover figures from other similar companies because different methods of calculation are used across the industry.”)

However, one executive admitted in the Baltimore Sun in 2008 that while annual managerial turnover is around 20 percent, it ranges between 80 to 90 percent for …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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America Is Criminalizing Black Teachers: Atlanta’s Cheating Scandal and the Racist Underbelly of Education Reform

April 8, 2015 in Blogs

By Brittney Cooper, Salon

Our educational system already stacks the deck against black children. Now we're throwing their teachers in jail.

Last week, an Atlanta jury convicted 11 teachers and school administrators of racketeering in a system-wide cheating scandal. Yes, you read that correctly. Teachers and administrators inflating student scores on standardized tests is now considered “organized crime” in this country, and is punishable by more 20 years in prison, in these cases.

I am an educator. I am a black woman who may someday mother a black child. I have taught other black mothers’ children. Much of my educational success in elementary school is directly attributable to high performance on standardized tests that caused my white teachers to notice me and intervene on my behalf to get me “tracked” into higher-achieving classrooms. I believe all children deserve access to a good, high-quality, public education.

Therefore, I don’t have to condone cheating in any form (and I don’t) to assert that what has happened in Atlanta to these teachers is a travesty. The pictures that emerged last week of handcuffed black schoolteachers being led out of Southern courtrooms in one of the country’s largest urban black school systems were absolutely heartbreaking.

Scapegoating black teachers for failing in a system that is designed for black children, in particular, not to succeed is the real corruption here. Since the early 1990s, we have watched the deprofessionalization of teaching, achieved through the proliferation of “teacher fellow” programs and the massive conservative-led effort to defund public education in major urban areas throughout the country. There is no longer a consensus that a good public education — a hallmark of American democracy — should be considered a public good.

Black children have for generations been the primary victims of this continuing social mendacity about the national value of education. More than 51 percent of children who attend public schools live in poverty. In Georgia, the percentage of black children living in poverty hovers right around 39 percent. For Latino children, the number is consistently over 40 percent. Nationally, the number for black children is 39 percent, according to …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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An Early Look at the GOP Candidates’ Positions on Foreign Policy

April 8, 2015 in Economics

By Michael D. Tanner

Michael D. Tanner

Yesterday, Senator Rand Paul formally announced his candidacy for president, becoming the second Republican, following Ted Cruz, to throw his hat into the ring. Almost immediately, a PAC organized by the same group responsible for the famous anti–John Kerry Swift Boat ads launched a $1 million advertising campaign in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina attacking Paul for being soft on national security and, specifically, soft on Iran. Paul’s candidacy and the quick response by Republican hawks lays open what may be a significant divide in the party over foreign-policy issues.

There is no doubt that Paul is the most dovish (he would say non-interventionist) mainstream Republican candidate in many years. But it is not quite as simple as suggesting that Paul is on one side of the issues and the other candidates or potential candidates are on the other side. The choice isn’t between President Obama’s foreign policy and George W. Bush’s. Rather, there is a surprisingly broad range of views this time around.

Start with Rand Paul himself. While clearly less inclined to intervene militarily than other Republican candidates, Paul is clearly not in the same foreign-policy camp as his father. At the very least, he appears to have shifted to a more nuanced stance as he prepared his candidacy. Perhaps his current position can be best summed up by his statement: ”America shouldn’t fight wars where the best outcome is stalemate. America shouldn’t fight wars when there is no plan for victory. America shouldn’t fight wars that aren’t authorized by the American people. . . . America should and will fight wars when the consequences — intended and unintended — are worth the sacrifice.” And Paul also declares: “The war on terror is not over, and America cannot disengage from the world.” He recently proposed a $160 billion increase in defense spending over ten years, paid for by cuts in foreign aid and domestic spending.

On specific issues, one can see the delicate balancing act that Paul is trying to pull off. He has been among the most vehement congressional critics of President Obama’s intervention in Libya, and has been generally opposed to intervening in Syria, blaming our policies in that country (and in Iraq) for helping to give rise to ISIS. Still he has called for military action against ISIS. On Iran, Paul has generally been more supportive of the nuclear negotiations than other Republicans, but he has also said that if diplomacy fails “all options are on the table, and that would …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Challenge to 2016 Voters: Ending Black Separation among Us

April 8, 2015 in Economics

By Nat Hentoff

Nat Hentoff

Among all the enlarging crises — from insatiably murderous ISIS to the fading individual liberties of more Americans in the Bill of Rights, how many 2016 presidential candidates will focus also on the fact that “Blacks are twice as likely to live in poverty … ” and “Black unemployment is nearly double that of whites”? (“Blacks ‘stall’ in race divide,” New York Daily News, March 26, 2015)

These are quotations from the long-respected civil rights organization, the National Urban League, as further quoted in the Huffington Post’s story “Black America is Just 72 Percent Equal to Whites in Some Areas” (Huffington Post, March 25, 2015).

One example of a subhead in that story: “Black Students’ Academic Proficiency Hovers Well Below White Peers:”

Also the continually racially segregated school systems across the land. For instance, the neighborhood where I live and work in New York City is effectively segregated by race. This is not done by law, but by where whites choose to live.

So, while growing up, young blacks and whites don’t get to know one another.

I don’t recall hearing racial public school segregation being mentioned by presidential or congressional candidates. Nor is it evident in most predominant media in their various forms.

My own growing up experience was different because of my passion for jazz, which began when I was about 12 years old. Five years later, I had a jazz program on Boston radio station WMEX, where I interviewed and got to know black jazz musicians, some of whom became my friends.

One of them was Charles Mingus, who later became a master bassist and leader. I first knew him as a sideman with a visiting combo to Boston, and we became friends.

It was when reading his 1971 memoir, Beneath the Underdog, that I viscerally felt the separation I didn’t experience between blacks and whites:

“Nat Hentoff,” he wrote about our first meeting, “was the first white I could talk with.”

So what will the next president do, if anything, if he or she has to suggest nominees for Supreme Court vacancies who could significantly reduce the separation between American blacks and whites? This can also be a consideration in voting for members of Congress, state judges and legislators, mayors, et al.

Otherwise, for how many generations will this racial separation continue?

What also needs pervasive changing are the long prison sentences of huge numbers of Americans, a high percentage of whom are blacks and other minorities.

Many …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Beyond Regulation: A Cooperative Approach to High-Frequency Trading and Financial Market Monitoring

April 8, 2015 in Economics

Some people are concerned that existing market structure regulation and liquidity incentives have skewed financial markets in favor of algorithmic and high-frequency trading (HFT). According to these critics, additional regulation should be introduced to level the playing field.  In a new paper, Holly A. Bell looks at how the current market structure and regulatory environment emerged and suggests that a cooperative solution is more attractive than more regulation.

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Source: CATO HEADLINES