You are browsing the archive for 2015 May 01.

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Freddie Gray Death: Cries of 'Justice' in Baltimore After Six Officers Charged

May 1, 2015 in Blogs

By Oliver Laughland, Raya Jalabi, Jon Swaine, The Guardian

State’s attorney Marilyn Mosby announces criminal charges including murder.

A criminal prosecution for murder will be brought over the death of Freddie Grayin Baltimore, the city’s top prosecutor announced on Friday morning.

The announcement came after nearly two weeks of growing anger over Gray’s death, and only hours after state’s attorney Marilyn Mosby received the results of a police investigation.


“Mr Gray’s death was a homicide,” Mosby declared. His arrest was illegal, and his treatment in custody amounted to murder and manslaughter, she said. 

Mosby said Gray sustained fatal neck injuries because he was handcuffed and shackled in the back of a police van without a seatbelt after his arrest on 12 April


“To the people of Baltimore: I heard your call for ‘no justice no peace’,” Mosby said at a Baltimore press conference. Praising young people who had taken to the streets to protest over Gray’s death, she said: “I will seek justice on your behalf.

“This is a moment. This is your moment,” said Mosby. “Let’s ensure that we have peaceful and productive rallies that will develop structural and systemic changes for generations to come. You’re at the forefront of this cause. And as young people, our time is now.” 

Whoops of joy and cries of “justice” were heard from bystanders as Mosby, a 35-year-old African American woman who has been in the job for less than six months, spoke. At an intersection in west Baltimore that has become the base for demonstrations, cars honked their horns and drivers pumped their fists in the air.

Officer Caesar Goodson – the driver of the police van – was charged with second-degree murder, while charges including manslaughter, assault, and misconduct in public office were brought against five other officers. Goodson, who has refused to cooperate with investigators, faces up to 30 years in prison.

Officer William Porter and Sergeant Alicia D White were charged with manslaughter, assault and misconduct. 

Lieutenant Brian Rice, Officer Garrett Miller and Officer Edward Nero were charged with manslaughter, assault, misconduct and false imprisonment.

All six officers involved were charged, and Baltimore …read more


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Meet Marilyn Mosby, the Badass Young Prosecutor Fighting for Justice in Baltimore

May 1, 2015 in Blogs

By Joanna Rothkopf, Salon

The youngest prosecutor in any major American city made headlines today when she announced cops would be charged.

After only four months as Baltimore City state’s attorney, 35-year-old Marilyn Mosby was thrust into the national spotlight when she announced in a press conference Friday morning that her team had deemed Freddie Gray’s death a homicide. Somehow, after a minutes-long briefing, the Internet decided that she was the woman who would save us all. And I am so down with that.

At the briefing, Mosby — who is the youngest prosecutor in any major American city — gave us some insight into her upbringing:

“To the rank-and-file officers of the Baltimore City police department, please know that these accusations of these six officers are not an indictment on the entire force. I come from five generations of law enforcement. My father was an officer; my mother was an officer; several of my aunts and uncles. My recently departed and beloved grandfather was one of the founding members of the first black police organization in Massachusetts.”

When Mosby was growing up in Boston, her 17-year-old cousin was mistaken for a drug dealer and murdered by another teenager. It was then she decided to become a prosecutor.

Now, she is married to Baltimore city councilman Nick Mosby — a detail which has led some police union representatives to insist she remove herself from the investigation.

“I uphold the laws. He makes the laws,” she said in Friday’s briefing. “I will prosecute any case within my jurisdiction.”

“She has a natural affinity for police officers and law enforcement types, and at the same time, she is aware of the incredible number of complaints against the Baltimore City police department,” said criminal defense attorney Richard Woods in an interview with NBC News.

“It was important to have somebody who was willing to look at it from both sides,” Woods said of her campaign for the position, which he supported. “Marilyn Mosby fit the bill.”

We are maybe too nervous to say everything we want to say about this maybe queen/superhero/Marvel franchise figurehead …read more


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I Secretly Lived in My Office for 500 Days

May 1, 2015 in Blogs

By Terry K., Salon

I couldn't pay rent in L.A., so I slept behind my desk. But what began as a quick financial fix soon became a lifestyle

I was asleep when I heard the door rattle against the frame. My eyes flashed open and I sprung upright in my under-desk sleep space. Was it all over? Had someone come to work early? I peered over my desk, afraid of what I might see. The morning sun burned through the chicken-scratch graffiti of the office’s front door, spilling across the labyrinth of desks spread out before me. There wasn’t a soul in sight. I breathed a sigh of relief. Probably just paranoia. Or maybe not — a breeze blew the front door against its frame, the pygmy-like rattle of a loose door jamb. It was the same sound I heard moments before and would hear countless times in the future but never quite get used to.

A little paranoia goes a long way when you live in a 10-square-feet workstation. I stood up, stretching my limbs toward the sky like a thawing, cryo-preserved humanoid, neck kinked and back stiff. I bent down to deflate my air mattress. The clock read 6:45 a.m. Under normal circumstances I’d still be asleep, but these circumstances were far from normal.

Earlier that week, I had moved into my office. Secretly. I rented out my Venice Beach apartment for the month, packed a few duffels with my clothes and prized belongings, and started taking up residence behind my desk, carefully using each square inch of out-of-sight real estate to store my stuff. Not everyone aspires to have their co-workers catching them at their desk in their tighty-whities—at 6 in the morning. Believing the absolute best-case-scenario reaction to my being there would be supreme awkwardness, I kept the whole thing to myself. Every morning I’d neatly pack away my personal belongings, turning the lights back on and lowering the air conditioning to its too-chilly-for-me 72 degrees—the way they always left it overnight. I’d leave for a morning workout and shower, simultaneously keeping clean and in …read more


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Baltimore State's Attorney Will Pursue Murder Charges Against Cops in Freddie Gray Case

May 1, 2015 in Blogs

By Kali Holloway, AlterNet

Multiple charges have just been filed against all 6 officers involved.

All six officers involved in the arrest and transport of Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old man who died under unexplained circumstances in police custody earlier this month, will face charges for their roles in his death. At a press conference on Friday morning, Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced that Gray’s death had been ruled a homicide and that his arrest was “illegal.”

Among those for whom warrants have been issued is Caesar Goodson, the police officer at the wheel of the van that transported Gray. The Guardian reports that Goodson will be charged with “second-degree murder, while charges including manslaughter, assault, and misconduct in public office were brought against five other officers.”

“We are very much committed to pursuing justice,” Mosby said, according to the Huffington Post. “Accountability… you're getting it today.”

The charges follow days of rallies around the country calling for justice in Gray's death. A full list of the charges is below. The press conference in its entirety is at bottom. 


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Bernie Sanders' Campaign Issues Truly Extraordinary Campaign Plank

May 1, 2015 in Blogs

By Zaid Jilani, AlterNet

The Vermont independent wants Americans to own the businesses they work at by creating worker co-ops.

After his presidential announcement this week, many wondered how Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) would distinguish himself from the other candidates running in the Democratic primary.

With his newly-published issues page, he offers some clues.

Among the 12 platform planks that he published there are several traditional ideas such as rebuilding American infrastructure and guaranteeing health care to all. But the very last platform offers a genuinely fresh idea: boosting America's worker co-ops.

The Sanders campaign writes:

We need to develop new economic models to increase job creation and productivity. Instead of giving huge tax breaks to corporations which ship our jobs to China and other low-wage countries, we need to provide assistance to workers who want to purchase their own businesses by establishing worker-owned cooperatives. Study after study shows that when workers have an ownership stake in the businesses they work for, productivity goes up, absenteeism goes down and employees are much more satisfied with their jobs.

In the United States, co-ops are often associated with small businesses such as coffee shops or groceries. But with the right regulatory incentives and support, worker-owned businesses can be much larger. Take the Mondragon corporation of Spain, for example. Today it has over 70,000 employees and brings in annual revenues of over $12 billion Euros. Within the various units of the corporation, workers decide on the direction of production for the company as well as what to do with the profits. While CEO-to-worker pay ratios in the United States have reached over 300-to-1, in Mondragon the cooperative model ensures that in most of its operations, “the ratio of compensation between top executives and the lowest-paid members is between three to one and six to one.”

Today, there are 11,000 worker-owned companies in America, and there are up to 120 million Americans who are involved in some form of co-op if you include credit unions in the tally. By endorsing their expansion, Sanders is proving that his differences with his opponents are …read more


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Obama Flunks the Constitutional Test

May 1, 2015 in Economics

By Ilya Shapiro

Ilya Shapiro

As the world awaits the Supreme Court’s rulings on Obamacare and gay marriage, pundits have engaged in a phony war that misses a larger story: the court’s rejection of the government’s extreme claims of unlimited federal power. Indeed, the Obama administration has already lost unanimously 20 times, having passed in its first five years the Bush DOJ’s number across two full terms (15).

While it’s still too early to make conclusions about the current Supreme Court session, in its previous three terms—effectively in the 30 months from January 2012 to June 2014—the government’s goose-egg rate was three times Bush and double Clinton (23 in eight years).

Again, those are statistics for cases in which President Obama failed to pick up even the votes of his own nominees. The overall rate looks even worse: in the last two terms, the solicitor general’s office won 39 and 55 percent of its cases, against a 50-year average of about 70 percent.

Has a U.S. president ever been shut out before the Supreme Court so often?”

Since some people think that overall rate isn’t a fair measure given that five of the nine justices were appointed by Republican presidents—although the government record in 5-4 cases isn’t bad—let’s stick to the recent cases where the justices fully agreed.

Between 2012 and 2014, the high court ruled unanimously against the government in such disparate areas as religious liberty, criminal procedure, property rights, immigration, securities regulation, tax law, and the presidential recess-appointment power. Here’s a sampling:

1. In Hosanna-Tabor Church v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (2012), the government sued a church school that fired a teacher for violating one of the church’s religious tenets. The unanimous court ruled that punishing a church for failing to retain an unwanted teacher in this context violates the First Amendment.

2. In United States v. Jones (2012), the government claimed the power to attach a GPS device to a suspected drug dealer’s car and monitor his movements without a warrant. While the justices had differing opinions on why this action violated the Fourth Amendment, all agreed it was unconstitutional.

3. In Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency (2012), the government denied property owners the right to challenge an order to stop building their house. The court ruled that access to courts is the least the government can provide in response to “the strong-arming of regulated parties” by federal agencies.

4. While the conventional wisdom regarding Arizona v. United States (2012) is that the high court smacked down a perniciously …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Tokyo's New Military Guidelines Based on Old Principle: U.S. Does Defending, Japan Gets Defended

May 1, 2015 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Washington in style, with a state dinner and speech to Congress. He brought with him plans for a more expansive international role for his country, but the military burden of defending Japan will continue to fall disproportionately on America.

World War II still hangs over Japan and its relations with neighboring states. As occupying power, the U.S. imposed the “peace constitution” on Tokyo, with Article Nine banning possession of a military. As the Cold War developed, however, Washington recognized that a rearmed Japan could play an important security role.

Japanese officials equaled American politicians in creatively interpreting their nation’s fundamental law—Tokyo established “Self-Defense Forces” as opposed to armed forces. However, Japan’s governments hid between the amendment to cap military outlays and limit the SDF’s role, ensuring American protection.

That approach also suited Tokyo’s neighbors, including other U.S. allies, most of which had suffered under Imperial Japan’s brutal occupation. Although not everyone was hostile to Tokyo, Australia, the Philippines, and South Korea especially preferred Japan disarmed and Washington as military guardian. Marine Corps Gen. Henry Stackpole famously referred to U.S. troops in Japan as a “cap in the bottle” to remilitarization.

As America’s economic edge ebbed and the international security challenges grew, Washington urged Tokyo to do more, though under U.S. direction. Movement was glacial, however. Although some members of the ruling LDP, such as Abe, who previously served as prime minister, shared a more nationalist perspective, policy change was limited by the pacifist-minded population. In recent years, however, Japanese sentiment has shifted toward a more vigorous military role in the face of an unpredictable North Korea developing both missiles and nuclear weapons and a powerful China growing more confrontational.

This changing environment generated the new “Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation,” formally released on Tuesday. Yet the much-heralded document—the first revision in 18 years—might deliver less than promised. The guidelines are only aspirational and state that they create no obligations for either government.

More important, the presentation is about Japanese, not American security. In essence, the new standards affirm what should have been obvious all along—Japan will help America defend Japan. For instance, the guidelines discuss responding to “emerging threats to Japan’s peace and security” and “an armed attack against Japan.” Washington commits to “continue to forward deploy combat-ready forces in the Asia-Pacific region and maintain the ability to reinforce those forces rapidly.” In contrast, there is nothing about Tokyo supporting …read more

Source: OP-EDS