You are browsing the archive for 2018 August 11.

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California Senate Bill 1421 Helps Hold Bad Cops Accountable

August 11, 2018 in Economics

By Jonathan Blanks

Jonathan Blanks

Of all 50 states, California has enacted perhaps the most
stringent legislative barriers to police accountability. Not only
do state laws protect misconduct findings against officers from the
public, but the law also keeps that information out of the hands of
prosecutors who need to trust the police to ensure justice. A
prosecutor cannot put an officer on the witness stand that she
knows has a history of lying. But if that prosecutor cannot easily
get access to the officer’s disciplinary record, as California law
currently ensures, then she may be relying on bad police
information or, even worse, prosecuting an innocent person on the
word of a dishonest officer. As both a matter of principle and
practicality, the government should do its best to maintain the
honesty and integrity of its police officers.

For police to be effective in their job to protect and serve the
public, they require the trust of the communities they serve.
Without trust, witnesses will not cooperate and provide testimony
to bring criminal perpetrators to justice. Without witness
cooperation, perpetrator apprehension becomes less likely —
negating the greatest deterrent to committing crime — and
thus public safety suffers. When police are not held accountable
for their actions and misconduct against the community, then, the
public suffer twice: first, the community is damaged by the
misconduct itself and second, the community’s security is
compromised by the diminished trust that comes from misbehaving
police who remain on the streets.

Restoring community trust
in police and the justice system writ large will require more
transparency from departments and more accountability for those
officers who have abused their positions.

There is currently a bill before the California Legislature that
would ease the burden for the prosecutors and the public to know
whether the officers in their communities are trustworthy. SB1421
would require police departments to release information about,
inter alia, sustained findings of dishonesty in the course of
criminal cases and other instances of police misconduct. This bill
would also require police departments to release information about
serious uses of force, including officer-involved shootings, to
increase transparency.

Law-and-order conservatives can support SB1421 because it may
restore a level of legitimacy to criminal prosecutions. When
dishonest officers are found out after many years of misconduct,
hundreds or thousands of prosecutions in which they played a role
may be jeopardized because of their misdeeds. The criminal justice
system relies upon honest police officers and shielding the
dishonest among them, as California law currently does, undermines
the integrity and, ultimately, the final disposition of criminal
prosecutions.

Officers who honor the badge and have no history of lying or
other serious misconduct — which, in …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Congress Missed Its Chance to Strangle the Imperial Presidency in Its Cradle

August 11, 2018 in Economics

By Ted Galen Carpenter

Ted Galen Carpenter

There are growing bipartisan
concerns
and warnings about the unrestrained power of
presidents to take the republic into war. That worry has surfaced
most recently with respect to U.S. military involvement in Syria
and the looming danger of war with Iran. Both Barack Obama and
Donald Trump committed U.S. military personnel to Syria, ostensibly
to repel the terrorist threat that ISIS posed, but also to assist
other insurgent forces attempting to overthrow Syrian dictator
Bashar al-Assad. Obama and Trump did so without seeking (much less
obtaining) a declaration of war—or even a more limited
congressional authorization.

Those episodes are just the latest manifestations of what
historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. labeled the imperial presidency more than four decades ago.
Schlesinger worried that the ability of presidents to launch major
military ventures on their own had grown steadily during the Cold
War and had reached the point that it undermined the constitutional
system of checks and balances. Matters have grown considerably
worse since he expressed such concerns. Indeed, the reality of an
out-of-control presidency regarding decisions of war and peace may
well have reached the point where it cannot be reversed.

The emergence of an imperial presidency reflects both executive
usurpation of the constitutional war power and congressional
abdication of that power. The most crucial episode was Harry
Truman’s commitment of U.S. troops to the Korean War in the summer
of 1950. True, there had been earlier episodes of executive
military missions with little or no congressional approval,
especially interventions in Latin America during the first decades
of the twentieth century. But there had never been anything close
to the scale of the Korean War. Not only the two world wars, but
smaller conflicts such as the Spanish-American War and the War of
1812, were authorized as the Constitution required: with a formal
declaration of war. Yet Truman sent more than three hundred
thousand U.S. military personnel to the Korean battlefield to wage
a full-scale war that ultimately lasted more than three years and
resulted in some thirty-six thousand American fatalities without
even asking for such a declaration.

The rule of law and the
health of the republic suffered a severe blow when the eighty-first
Congress failed to fulfill its constitutional duty and impeach
Truman.

The flaccid congressional response to Truman’s violation
of the Constitution was an omen of how subsequent Congresses would
fail to defend the war power that the founders explicitly entrusted
to the legislative branch. Members of the eighty-first Congress had
an opportunity to strangle the imperial presidency in its cradle by
impeaching the president if he persisted. But at …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Here's Why Trump’s Most Rabid Fans Need the Madness of the QAnon Conspiracy Theory

August 11, 2018 in Blogs

By Joshua Holland, Raw Story

Put yourself in their shoes (I know it's unpleasant).


If you want to really understand QAnon, the ludicrous mish-mash of conspiracy theories premised on the idea that Donald Trump has been working in cahoots with Robert Mueller and senior military officials — and also maybe JFK, Jr., who faked his death in a 1999 plane crash to thwart the Derp State — to investigate and ultimately punish Hillary Clinton and, presumably, most other Democrats for running a massive pedophile ring, you should read Chris Mooney's book, The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science- and Reality.

Mooney, writing in Mother Jonesin 2011, summarized how “an array of new discoveries in psychology and neuroscience [have] further demonstrated how our preexisting beliefs, far more than any new facts, can skew our thoughts and even color what we consider our most dispassionate and logical conclusions…

This tendency toward so-called “motivated reasoning” helps explain why we find groups so polarized over matters where the evidence is so unequivocal… The theory of motivated reasoning builds on a key insight of modern neuroscience: Reasoning is actually suffused with emotion… [It is often] a means to a predetermined end—winning our “case”—and is shot through with biases.

If you're a normal person who's followed Trump's sleazy career, you've probably been shocked but not surprised by his conduct in office. Trump turned his father's modest slum empire into an international brand through relentless self-promotion and an unending supply of bullshit. He never passed up an opportunity to cut corners, recruiting undocumented workers to build his buildings with cut-rate Chinese steel. He pocketed big profits from projects that turned to shit by stiffing investors and contractors. He ran blatant scams like Trump University and sold cheesy crap made in overseas sweatshops.

In other words, he's always been a hypocritical, narcissistic grifter of the worst kind, and his America-First schtick on the campaign trail probably seemed like a ridiculous joke to you until the moment those early returns from the Midwest started coming in on Election Night.

But think for a moment how the past 19 months …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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'BlacKkKlansman' and White Women: Spike Lee’s New Film Indicts Their Investment in White Supremacy

August 11, 2018 in Blogs

By Rachel Leah, Salon

From legal slavery to now, white women have always participated in white nationalist violence in many forms


The new Spike Lee-directed film “BlacKkKlansman” begins with a scene from the 1939 film “Gone With the Wind.” In it, Scarlett O'Hara discovers the rows and rows of injured and slaughtered bodies at a train yard following the Battle of Atlanta. As the camera pans out, a battered Confederate flag buckles and billows in the wind, in what appears to show honor and resilience, despite the flag's shabbiness and the Confederacy's defeat.

The opening is significant not just because it demonstrates one of Lee's greatest gifts as a filmmaker, in that he forces us to re-examine history, or as Rembert Browne wrote for Time Magazine, he holds “up a mirror to society, ever hopeful that we’ll eventually open our eyes.” But in “BlacKkKlansman,” Lee is intentional about not just showing the atrocities of the hooded, cross-burning men in the Ku Klux Klan in Colorado Springs, or of the former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke, or of the current president of the United States. Lee also demonstrates — critically — historically and presently, white women's investment in upholding white supremacy.

White women's stake in white nationalism has been, at times, a quieter presence. The sea of white men in collared shirts and cropped haircuts carrying tiki torches in Charlottesville one year ago bolstered a narrative that the racist belief and movement is primarily single-gendered. But Charlottesville came after the 2016 election when 53 percent of white women voters pulled the lever for Donald Trumpdespite his overt misogyny, and despite his alleged history of sexual abuse.

Many liberals and progressives questioned how so many white women didn't see Trump's sexism as a deal-breaker — and likewise, and more terrifyingly, the people in his administration who continue to be hell-bent on rolling back reproductive rights. How could they be so invested in the white nationalist rhetoric that Trump said and endorsed at the risk to their own bodies? But as Melissa Harris-Perry wrote in …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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You Know Who’s Paying Very, Very Close Attention to the Manafort Trial? President Trump

August 11, 2018 in Blogs

By Lucian K. Truscott IV, Salon

It may not be the trial of the century, but Mueller & Trump, the stake-holders outside the courtroom, are watching


Do you remember the first job you ever had? I’m not talking about cutting lawns, or babysitting the neighbor’s kids, or lifeguarding at the municipal pool. I’m talking about the job you probably got after you graduated from college or finished your military service. A job you had to apply and interview for. A job at a company downtown in an office building. That kind of job.

If your experience was anything like mine, or that of millions of other people’s, an average day at work went something like this.

You arrived at the company and maybe you checked in at a security desk in the lobby, and then you took an elevator upstairs. The elevator was crowded with other people arriving for work. When you got off, there were long hallways with secretarial and assistants’ desks on one side, and doors leading to offices on the others.

Even though the day was just beginning, the place was probably buzzing with activity: computer monitors flickering, people in the halls balancing take-out coffee cups and cell phones as they filed into a conference room for a meeting. Your desk might have been in a large, open area filled with cubicles where other people who had jobs not unlike yours worked. There was a low hum of activity. People were busy, and they stayed that way for most of the day. You probably ate at your desk, and so did many others.

The company you worked for was a great machine that produced something. In my case, it was a newspaper. In yours, it might have been complex financial reports, or data analysis, or a cosmetics product like lipstick, or even somewhere far away from the office, a barrel of oil, or something silky and soft like lingerie or metallic and hard like an exhaust manifold or the hood for a pick-up truck.

But not one of the many companies that Paul Manafort ran when he was working in the Ukraine for its corrupt, mobbed-up …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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A Timeline of Racism in Charlottesville: From 1607 Through 2017’s 'Unite the Right' Rally

August 11, 2018 in Blogs

By Claudrena N. Harold, Salon

University of Virginia faculty examine the history and legacy of white supremacy on and around UVA’s campus


Universities are complex networks of buildings and organizations that pro­vide education and jobs and health care and cultural enrichment. They take form in classrooms, dorms, dining halls, and hospitals. They field sports teams and community volunteers. They possess histories that include shameful compromises with the inequalities and oppression of their times. And they nurture opposition to those moral and ethical errors. Most funda­mentally, universities are students, professors, staff, and alumni who think together about what is needed—from food and computers and trust to books and ideas and evidence—for us to continue in this essential act of collective thought.

The book “Charlottesville 2017: The Legacy of Race and Inequity” brings together University of Virginia professors thinking about and feeling their way through the events of August 11 and 12, 2017. When white nationalists and neo-Nazis marched through the University of Virginia, students staged a counterprotest in front of the Rotunda by standing in a small, brave circle around the statue of Jefferson. When white supremacists of all kinds rallied in Emancipation Park and fought in the streets of downtown Charlottesville, students, staff members, alumni, and professors stood among the counterprotesters and said no to hate in our town and our nation. Here, professors write about these events as scholars—as students of history, law, photography, literature, and music, yes—but also as humans, as parents and spouses and siblings, as colleagues and congregation members and citizens of a historical moment in which choices must be made and false equivalencies abolished.

I began my career as a professor of history researching how white South­erners created a culture that legitimated segregation: the system of vio­lence, oppression, and discrimination they created to replace slavery. The question that animated my work was how white Southerners learned to live with what they had done, how they convinced themselves that their world was moral and good and true. Building Confederate statues in parks and in front of courthouses formed an essential part of that work. After twenty years of teaching at the University …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Here's How Toxic Tap Water Can Send You Scrambling for Something Safe to Drink — and Why It Might Become the New Normal

August 11, 2018 in Blogs

By Bill Walker, Emily Wathen, Independent Media Institute

Toledo was the first large U.S. city where toxic algae blooms made tap water unsafe to drink. But it may not be the last.


TOLEDO, Ohio — In the middle of a muggy summer night, Keith Jordan got an urgent text: Toledo's tap water wasn't safe to drink.

“I thought it was a joke,” said Jordan, who works with at-risk youth in Toledo’s inner city. He went back to sleep. When he got up a few hours later, he took a shower and had a cup of coffee, then turned on the news.

“They were saying don't drink the water, don't take a shower—the water is messed up,” Jordan said. “You couldn't even touch the water. It was something you could not believe was happening here in Toledo.”

That was August 2, 2014. For the next three days, half a million people in and around this industrial city at the western edge of Lake Erie scrambled to find safe water.

Many drove hours across state borders to stand in long lines at stores that hadn't sold out of bottled water. Some stores were charging $40 for a case of water that usually costs less than $5. Jordan, unaffected by his shower and coffee, helped set up distribution centers for free water, and helped deliver it to seniors and mothers with babies. The National Guard sent tanker trucks full of drinking water to the city.

The panic was set off by a toxin called microcystin, the byproduct of an enormous bloom of blue-green algae that had invaded Lake Erie. The bloom—technically not algae, but photosynthetic single-celled organisms called cyanobacteria—blanketed vast expanses of the lake with what looked like thick, sickly green split-pea soup. It was triggered by chemical pollution from farm fertilizers and industrial sources into the lake, which supplies the region's tap water.

Toledo was the first large U.S. city where toxic blooms made tap water unsafe for human consumption. But it may not be the last.

No government agency collects nationwide data on toxic blooms. But Environmental Working Group's research found news reports of almost 300 blooms in lakes, rivers and bays in 48 …read more

Source: ALTERNET