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Waco Biker Gang Killings — Funny How the Corporate Media Won't Call It a Riot When White People Are Involved

May 18, 2015 in Blogs

By Jenny Kutner, Salon

Reporting on Waco biker gang killings reveals disparities in news coverage.

Nine people have died after a shootout between rival motorcycle gangs in Waco on Sunday, when gunfire erupted in the parking lot of a Twin Peaks restaurant in the central Texas city.

I use the terms “shootout” and “gunfire erupted” after reading numerous eyewitness reports, local news coverage and national stories about the “incident,” which has been described with a whole host of phrases already. None, however, are quite as familiar as another term that’s been used to describe similarly chaotic events in the news of late: “Riot.”

Of course, the deadly shootout in Texas was exactly that: A shootout. The rival gangs were not engaged in a demonstration or protest and they were predominantly white, which means that — despite the fact that dozens of people engaged in acts of obscene violence — they did not “riot,” as far as much of the media is concerned. “Riots” are reserved for communities of color in protest, whether they organize violently or not, and the “thuggishness” of those involved is debatable. That doesn’t seem to be the case in Texas.

A riot is not simply a demonstration against police brutality. It can also be what happens when scores of hostile white people open gunfire in a parking lot. And when that happens, it can be described as anything but a “riot.”

Here are some synonyms different outlets, as well as law enforcement officials, came up with:

CNN

melee

ruckus

fracas

brawl

fistfight

brouhaha

“issues”

trouble

chaos

New York Times:

shootout

chaos

fight

confrontation

problems

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Source: ALTERNET

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The Increasingly Elusive Climate Consensus

May 18, 2015 in Economics

By Ross McKitrick

Ross McKitrick

We are often told nearly all climate scientists agree on… something. But on what, exactly, do they agree? In 2013 President Obama sent out a tweetclaiming 97% of climate experts believe global warming is “real, man-made and dangerous.” As it turns out the survey he was referring to didn’t ask that question at all. At a recent debate in New Orleans I heard climate activist Bill McKibben claim there was an expert consensus that greenhouse gases are “a grave danger.” But when challenged for the source of his claim, he promptly withdrew it.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change asserts the conclusion that most (more than 50%) of the post-1950 global warming is due to human activity, chiefly greenhouse gas emissions and land use change. But they do not survey their own contributors, let alone anyone else, so we do not know how many experts agree with them.

One commonly-cited survey asked if carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and human activities contribute to climate change. But these are trivial statements that even many IPCC skeptics agree with. And neither statement speaks to any potential harm done by climate change. So there are no policy implications of such surveys, regardless of the level of agreement.

What we need to call out is the use of false propaganda and demagoguery regarding one of the most complex scientific and policy questions of our time.”

The most highly-cited paper supposedly found 97% of published scientific studies support man-made global warming. But in addition to poor survey methodology, that tabulation is often misrepresented. Most papers (66%) actually took no position, and of the remaining 34%, 33% supported at least a weak human contribution to global warming. So divide 33 by 34 and you get 97%: but this is unremarkable since the 33% includes many papers that critique key elements of the IPCC position.

Two recent surveys shed more light on what atmospheric scientists actually think. Bear in mind that on a topic as complex as climate change, a survey is hardly a reliable guide to scientific truth. But if you want to know how many people agree with your view, a survey is the only way to find out.

In 2012 the American Meteorological Society (AMS) surveyed its 7,000 members, receiving 1,862 responses. Of those, only 52% said they think global warming over the 20th century has happened and is mostly manmade (the IPCC …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Pope Francis Makes Tea Party Heads Explode—Why Louie Gohmert and Steve King Have It in for the Pontiff

May 18, 2015 in Blogs

By Jim Newell, Salon

GOP members are worried about what Pope Francis will say in his speech to Congress, and it's great.

The Bishop of Rome is coming to Washington in September to address a joint session of Congress, and boy are things already getting frisky. Pope Francis is an extraordinarily popular Pope who’s not afraid to wield that popularity for human rights and economic justice. In other words, he’s well to the left of most members of Congress, and he may well get up in their faces about issues near and dear to him. Since you’re sort of required to clap for the Pope, this is going to make for an interesting scene.

In late 2013, not long after his election, Francis wrote an extensive document making economic justice a centerpiece of his papacy. “Just as the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life,” he wrote, “today we also have to say ‘thou shalt not’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality.”

“Such an economy kills,” wrote Pope Francis, denouncing the current economic system as “unjust at its roots” and one “which defend(s) the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation.” Such a system, he warned, is creating a “new tyranny,” which “unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules.”

On foreign affairs he’s made his priorities known, too. Earlier this year, Francis helped broker the thawing of relations between the United States and Cuba, and just this week,the Vatican announced that it would sign a treaty recognizing a Palestinian state. As Patricia Miller writes in Salon, these sorts of moves aren’t some radical break in policy for the Vatican. It’s just that American conservatives were able to turn a blind eye to these actions before “rock star Francis” commanded their attention. “It’s more accurate,” Miller writes, “to view this particular step in the Vatican’s relationship with Palestine both as a continuation of the Holy See’s long-standing support for Palestinian statehood and as an expression of Francis’ overriding interest in fostering international peace—and his unique ability and willingness to put his …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Bernie Sanders Has Been Against CIA's Role in Destroying Democracy Since His Early Days in Politics (Video)

May 18, 2015 in Blogs

By Zaid Jilani, AlterNet

Early video of Sanders gives nice background on his political beliefs.

As Independent Senator Bernie Sanders ramps up his campaign for the presidency, his focus has been on issues like economic inequality, the corrupting influence of money in politics, and stopping global climate change. Yet questions have remained about his views on the realm of policy most relevant to the commander in chief's job: foreign affairs.

A televised CSPAN interview Sanders gave in 1989, when he was mayor of Burlington, Vermont, offers a look into his thinking about the world. At one point, the interviewer asked Sanders about the distinction between socialism in Latin American countries and the authoritarian government of the Soviet Union. Sanders said

INTERVIEWER: At various times the governments of Nicaragua and the previous government of Grenada have said that they were not Communist. They were socialist, Marxist, how do you relate to that?

SANDERS: I agree with that. I agree with that! What they said, what the government of Grenada said, under Maurice Bishop is that they wanted to forge their own way. And they were overthrown by the United States government. In Nicaragua, you have a government which has…came to power and I believe has tried to do the right thing for its people in terms of health care, land reform, education. If you trace the history of the United States vis a vis Latin America and Central America, there has never been a time where a country made a revolution for the poor people where it was not overthrown by the CIA or the United States government, or the marines. Salvador Allende was democratically elected by the people of Chile. He made the mistake of believing that his job as president of that country was to represent the people of Chile. And he did his best. And he was overthrown by the CIA. So the interesting question is why does the United States government think, whether its Nicaragua or any other country in Latin or Central America that it has the right to overthrow those governments.

<p …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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White House and DOJ Impose Limits to Stem the Militarization of Local Police Departments

May 18, 2015 in Blogs

By Kali Holloway, AlterNet

After an intense review of policing around the country, the President is making it harder for cops to acquire weapons of war.

The increasing militarization of local police departments has been one of the most troubling issues to gain widespread notice in the wake of uprisings in Baltimore and Ferguson. In response to justified fears and concerns about police use of military-grade weapons of war against American citizens, the White House today announced it will place new limits on the acquisition of some military equipment by police around the country. In some cases, the Executive Order will outright ban federal funds for local police purchase of certain kinds of military-style weapons. In other cases, it will significantly limit access to some of those weapons.

These plans are the result of the findings from the Task Force on 21st Century Policing, a group assembled last December after tensions between police and many of the communities they serve were revealed. According to a White House press release distributed this morning, the new policies can be used to help “build and maintain the all-important trust between the law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line every day, and the communities they have sworn to serve and protect.”

Following a top-to-bottom review of federal programs which fund and support equipment for local police departments, the White House issued an executive order preventing further transfers of tracked armored vehicles (tanks), weaponized aircraft and vehicles, bayonets, grenade launchers, .50-caliber or higher firearms and ammunition, and camouflage uniforms.”

A second list of equipment to which access will continue but be more tightly restricted and monitored includes ”armored vehicles with wheels—not tank treads—like Humvees, other tactical aircraft, riot batons and battering rams, specialized firearms and ammunition below .50 caliber weapons that are not part of routinely issued police arms, and riot helmets and shields.”

The White House’s executive order will require local police departments and municipal officials to justify why they need the weaponry, undergo additional training if they get it, and then track its use and report those activities to …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Jay-Z and Beyonce Have Been Discreetly Paying the Bail of Baltimore and Ferguson Protesters

May 18, 2015 in Blogs

By Kali Holloway, AlterNet

Activist dream hampton says the two are giving generously to the cause, but want to avoid being a distraction.

Jay-Z and Beyonce get a lot of flack for being apolitical, but if a series of tweets from noted hip-hop writer, cultural critic and activist dream hampton can be believed, the couple is actually very politically engaged — but just prefer to keep their social activism quiet.

hampton’s tweets, posted yesterday, claim that Jay-Z and Beyonce have been sending “tens of thousands” of dollars to underwrite efforts in Ferguson, Baltimore and for the Black Lives Matter movement in general. Though her tweets were later erased, Complex magazine had the foresight to capture screen grabs before they disappeared. The tweets are below:

(h/t Complex)

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Source: ALTERNET

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Put Harriet Tubman on the $20 Bill

May 18, 2015 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

Washington’s latest symbolic battle is looming. America’s money celebrates its early political leaders, white males all. There’s now a campaign to provide for greater currency diversity. The group Women on 20s held a poll on what woman should be added: the victor was famed antislavery activist Harriet Tubman, who narrowly beat out First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Finishing further behind were Rosa Parks, the Civil Rights heroine, and Wilma Mankiller, the first female Cherokee chief.

Of course, it wouldn’t be the first time that a woman appeared on America’s money. Suffragette Susan B. Anthony graced the ill-fated dollar coin that was little used and quickly forgotten. The Native American Sacagawea later did the same and suffered a similar fate.

The Treasury Department is authorized to choose figures for America’s money. The administration has almost total discretion, since all that matters is that the person be dead. President Barack Obama indicated his interest in showcasing more women, encouraging feminist groups to rev up their political engines.

Republican legislators should take up the challenge and introduce a resolution urging the Treasury to add Tubman. There’s nothing sacred about the present currency line-up. After all, America was created by many more people than presidents and other politicians.

Andrew Jackson has had a fine run on the $20 bill. It’s time to give someone else a chance.”

Indeed, replacing Andrew Jackson makes a certain sense since he resolutely opposed a federal central bank. He likely would be horrified if he returned and found his visage gracing paper money for a system far more malign than the Bank of the United States, which he battled ferociously and ultimately killed. Tough, cantankerous, and short-tempered, he would make today’s denizens of Capitol Hill feel his pain.

Moreover, Tubman would be a great choice to replace him. She represents the best of America. She was born between 1820 and 1822 in Maryland to slave parents. She was christened Araminta Ross and her mother fought hard to hold the family together. Tubman was hired out and often beaten. She suffered permanent harm but her strong Christian faith helped sustain her. After her owner’s death in 1849, which led his widow to begin selling their slaves, she escaped through the Underground Railroad to Philadelphia.

However, a year later she returned to Maryland to rescue her niece and the latter’s two children, beginning a career of leading slaves to freedom. Frederick Douglass may …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Is America about to Make a Fatal Mistake in the South China Sea?

May 18, 2015 in Economics

By Ted Galen Carpenter

Ted Galen Carpenter

An already tense and dangerous situation in the South China Sea threatens to become even worse. The latest development focuses on reports that the United States is considering plans to initiate systematic military patrols with ships and planes in that volatile area. Without even waiting for confirmation that the reports are accurate, Beijing expressed its great displeasure regarding such a step.

If this actually comes to pass, Washington is about to deepen its involvement in a bitter, multi-sided territorial dispute. The underlying issues are murky and complex. Based on dubious interpretations of both history and international law, China claims an oceanic boundary that would convert some 80 percent of the South China Sea—and the small islands dotting itf—from international waters into Chinese territorial waters. Beijing has begun to enforce its claims with air and naval patrols and major reclamation projects to build serviceable artificial islands (in one case, even including an runway) from nearly submerged reefs. Several neighboring countries, including Vietnam, the Philippines, and Malaysia, not only challenge Beijing’s claim, they assert significant territorial ambitions of their own. Vietnam has even commenced a more limited artificial island construction of its own.

The Obama administration has made it clear that it does not accept China’s logic or evidence regarding the territorial issue. Washington’s recalcitrance is unsurprising. Crucial sea lanes pass through the South China Sea, carrying a substantial portion of the world’s commerce. For U.S. leaders, that body of water is important both economically and strategically. As the world’s leading naval power and economic leader, the United States is not about to countenance an effort to convert the South China Sea into a de facto Chinese lake.

Washington is about to deepen its involvement in a bitter, multi-sided territorial dispute.”

An explicit assertion of American interest in the area came early in the Obama administration, highlighted by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s speech to a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in July 2010. Chinese officials regarded Clinton’s comments as gratuitous interference in a purely regional controversy. Subsequent U.S. actions deepened Beijing’s concerns and suspicions.

Washington’s rhetorical involvement in the South China Sea issue coincided with the announcement of the strategic “pivot” or “rebalancing” of U.S. military forces to establish a stronger presence in East Asia. Moreover, the Obama administration has taken several specific steps that seem designed to thwart Beijing’s …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Paul Krugman Drops Epic Truth Bomb on Latest Round of Lies About Iraq War

May 18, 2015 in Blogs

By Janet Allon, AlterNet

The war was no mere mistake: The Bush administration wanted a war and concocted the intelligence.

“Mistakes were made” just doesn't get at the truth about how America was coerced into the disastrous war in Iraq,and the horrific consequences that are still unfolding. Paul Krugman sets the record straight in Monday's column, beginning with the ironic statement, that “there’s something to be said for having the brother of a failed president make his own run for the White House.”

Yep, Jeb Bush has unwittingly ushered in the chance to have an honest discussion about the invasion of Iraq. About time.

Of course, Bush and a whole lot of other people would prefer not to have that honest discussion, or if they do, to make excuses for themselves (Judith Miller.) ,

The Iraq War was no innocent mistake based on faulty intelligence, Krugman argues compellingly. “America invaded Iraq because the Bush administration wanted a war,” he writes. “The public justifications for the invasion were nothing but pretexts, and falsified pretexts at that. We were, in a fundamental sense, lied into war.”

And we knew it—or certainly should have. Krugman:

The fraudulence of the case for war was actually obvious even at the time: the ever-shifting arguments for an unchanging goal were a dead giveaway. So were the word games — the talk about W.M.D that conflated chemical weapons (which many people did think Saddam had) with nukes, the constant insinuations that Iraq was somehow behind 9/11.

And at this point we have plenty of evidence to confirm everything the war’s opponents were saying. We now know, for example, that on 9/11 itself — literally before the dust had settled — Donald Rumsfeld, the secretary of defense, was already plotting war against a regime that had nothing to do with the terrorist attack. “Judge whether good enough [to] hit S.H. [Saddam Hussein] …sweep it all up things related and not”; so read notes taken by Mr. Rumsfeld’s aide.

This was, in short, a war the White House wanted, and all of the supposed mistakes that, as Jeb puts it, …read more

Source: ALTERNET